By Ray Hamill — It might still be a little early to be talking playoffs in basketball, but if mid-season rankings are anything to go by, at least three of the local prep teams are expected to make some serious noise in the postseason, and possibly even contend for a state title.
Most notably, of course, are the Fortuna boys, who are ranked No. 2 in the state among Division-IV programs, according to MaxPreps.
But they’re not alone, with two other local squads ranked in the top-5 in their respective divisions.
The Del Norte girls are No. 4 in the state in Division IV, while the St. Bernard’s girls are No. 5 in Division V.
Of course, this doesn’t guarantee anything for any of them just yet, and two of those three are not even the top-ranked team within their division in the North Coast Section.
The Huskies are second to a dominant Branson team in both the state and NCS Division-IV rankings.
The Bulls are 13-2 and have lost one more game than the 16-1 Huskies, but have a far better strength of schedule.
Branson has a ranking of 24.8 to Fortuna’s 23.1, but both have a sizable ratings advantage over the state’s third-ranked Division-IV team, Silverado (18.9) out of Victorville.
But so far so good for the Huskies, whose only loss came at the hands of Menlo-Atherton, the same school that beat Eureka in the state football semifinal last month.
Fortuna features a veteran and experienced lineup, with all five starters back from a year ago, and is on an impressive roll right now.
The Del Norte girls, meanwhile, are 12-1 and also ranked No. 2 among NCS Division-IV teams, behind St. Patrick-St. Vincent (14-1), the No. 2 team in the state.
The Warriors came away from Fortuna with a key win to open league play on Friday night and it should be a intriguing battle between them and the Eureka Loggers in this year’s Big 5.
The St. Bernard’s girls, meanwhile, are the only current top-ranked NCS team in the H-DNL, leading the field in Division V with a record of 11-4, including six straight wins.
The Eureka girls, who are off to a 2-0 start in the Big 5, are also riding high in the Division-III rankings, currently sitting at No. 4 in the NCS and No. 22 in the state.
Only two other NCS teams in Division III have a stronger strength of schedule than the Loggers, which could pay dividends and have them better prepared when the playoffs roll around.
The Ferndale girls are ranked No. 5 among NCS Division-VI schools, with South Fork just two spots back.
And in Division-IV, the Fortuna girls are currently No. 8.
On the boys side, Del Norte is No. 7 in Division IV, while Hoopa Valley and Ferndale are ranked No. 8 in Divisions V and VI, respectively.
The Hoopa Warriors are an intriguing team, and one that could yet make some serious noise in the playoffs.
The Warriors have fallen in the rankings in recent weeks, but remain a dangerous team in what is a loaded NCS Division-V field, which features eight of the top 17 teams in the state.
In total, 10 of the 18 local prep teams are currently ranked in the top-8 in their respective NCS brackets.