By Ray Hamill — The Del Norte and Eureka girls each posted statement wins in the Big 5 on Friday night, while in the Little 4 the St. Bernard’s Crusaders lived up to their billing as the team to beat.
Also in action on Friday night, the McKinleyville girls dropped a non-league game at Mt. Eden, while the Hoopa Valley boys continued their winning ways and advanced to the championship game at the Etna tournament.
For more details on the Eureka/Arcata game, see Bench players, defense lead Eureka in impressive win …
St. Bernard’s 56, Ferndale 26
The Crusaders opened league play with a comfortable win over the Wildcats at St. Bernard’s.
Jasa Sisemore led a balanced team effort with another strong performance, finishing with a game-high 16 points in the win, as the home team took control of the game early and never appeared in danger of losing.
The win was the sixth straight for St. Bernard’s, which improved to 11-4 overall.
Josie Peterson also continued to impress with another strong outing for the Crusaders, finishing with 10 points, including eight in the third quarter, while Maddie Costa added seven points and is looking more and more comfortable on the court.
“Maddie is really getting into good form, which will really help us,” St. Bernard’s head coach Mark Gardner said.
Senior guard Bryleigh Busick led the Cats with 12 points, causing the home team some problems throughout, while teammate Macey Sutherland finished with five points.
The Cats, who dropped to 8-6 on the season and 0-1 in the Little 4, will play at Hoopa Valley next Friday.
Emily Gardner and Shelby Jordan each also finished with six points for the Crusaders, who will host Laytonville on Saturday at 3 p.m.
Del Norte 53, Fortuna 39
The Del Norte Warriors sent out a warning to the rest of the Big 5 with an impressive win at Fortuna to open conference play.
The visitors took control of the game early and never looked back, improving to 11-1 on the season.
For the second time in three nights the Huskies started sluggish on offense, and this time around their defense wasn’t able to keep them in the game, as the Warriors opened up a 15-point advantage by halftime.
“We outscored them in the second half, but we had a horrible first half and we couldn’t come back from it,” Fortuna head coach Jesse Genaro said.
A lopsided number of fouls called in the second half (14-3 in Del Norte’s favor) put the home team in a bind, although the Huskies head coach wasn’t blaming them for the loss.
“That’s a huge disparity,” Genaro said. “It didn’t help us, but you’ve got to tip your hat to Del Norte. They’re good. They’re disciplined, and they’re fast. But they’re not 15 points better than us.”
With the loss, the Huskies drop to 0-2 in the Big 5, having played Del Norte and Eureka, the two favorites.
Fortuna is now 10-7 and will play at St. Bernard’s on Wednesday, before resuming Big 5 action at Arcata next Friday.
“We’re a better team than that for sure,” Genaro said of Friday’s performance. “We’ve just got to come out with higher intensity.”
Del Norte, which has now won eight straight games, will host Arcata on Wednesday.
In JV action, the high-flying Fortuna girls continued to roll with another impressive victory, defeating Del Norte 36-20.
Teal Mostovoy scored 14 points for the undefeated Huskies, who improved to 15-0.
Mostovoy, who is averaging 19 points in league play, nailed 5-of-6 first-quarter free throw attempts.
McKinleyville 25, Mt. Eden 49
The Panthers, who have a bye from league play this week, opened a two-game road trip with a loss to Mt. Eden.
“We played well defensively, but struggled to find the bottom of the net,” Mack head coach Tony McClure said.
Rian Heenan scored a team-high six points in the loss, while teammate Hope Kibby added five points.
The Panthers are now 10-6 and will play a tough Montgomery team (12-2) on Saturday morning at 11 a.m.
Hoopa Valley 76, Fall River 54
The Hoopa Valley Warriors continued to impress at the Etna tournament, advancing to Saturday’s championship game with a comfortable win over Fall River on Friday.
George Navarro again led the way for the high-scoring Hoopa boys, finishing with 40 points, while his brother Shaun Navarro had eight points and the in-form Dennis Young six points.
Crucially, the Warriors appear to be peaking right as league play looms.
“I think it was one of our best performances of the season,” head coach Tyler Mitchell said. “We played together as a team, ran our offense and played good hard defense.”
The Warriors have been battling some injuries recently, but welcomed back Wade Nixon and Sonny Jarnaghan on Friday, with both seeing limited action for the first time in several games.
The Warriors will play for the tournament championship on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.