By Ray Hamill — Humboldt-Del Norte League action continues this week on the local basketball courts, with some key games on tap as teams look to build some momentum.
Particularly in the Big 5, with three games in the coming days involving frontrunners.
On the girls side, the three undefeated teams will meet in a pair of matchups that could go a long way toward deciding the fate of this year’s title race, and a pair of games that could make or break McKinleyville’s title challenge.
The Panthers, who are 1-0 in the Big 5 and arguably the most improved team in the area this winter, will host league favorites Eureka (2-0) and Del Norte (1-0) on Wednesday and Friday, respectively.
A pair of loses for the home team would essentially leave the Big 5 a two-horse race less than halfway though the campaign, whereas a pair of wins for Mack would leave things wide open all over again.
The Fortuna Huskies (0-2), who dropped two league games last week to the two favorites, will no doubt be rooting for the Panthers to keep the race tight, while they try to get back on track at Arcata (0-2) on Friday.
Arcata also travels to Del Norte on Wednesday.
Huskies to test Tigers
On the boys side, meanwhile, the Arcata boys’ impressive start to league play will be put to the test in a pair of tough matchups this week, hosting Del Norte (0-1) on Tuesday and Fortuna on Thursday.
The Tigers and Huskies are each off to a 2-0 start to the Big 5, and Thursday’s key showdown could be for the league lead if Arcata can take care of business against the Warriors first.
McKinleyville, meanwhile, lost a thrilling close game at home to Arcata on Saturday night to open the Big 5, and will be hoping to get back on track at Eureka on Tuesday.
The Loggers are 0-2 in the Big 5 and have struggled in their first two games, losing to Arcata and Fortuna by a combined 67 points.
The Loggers also host Hoopa Valley in a non-conference game on Monday night.
Crusaders leading the way in L4
In the Little 4, on the girls side it doesn’t look like anyone will be able to stop St. Bernard’s this season, although South Fork will be attempting to do just that when the Cubs host the Crusaders on Thursday in their league opener.
The SB girls (1-0) got their conference campaign off to a successful start with a 30-point win over Ferndale last week, their sixth straight win.
Ferndale (0-1) will try to get back on track at Hoopa (0-0) on Friday.
In non-league girls action this week, St. Bernard’s will host Fortuna on Wednesday night in what should be an intriguing battle between two quality teams.
The Huskies started slow offensively in back-to-back games against Eureka and Del Norte last week and will need to come out with a lot more intensity if they want to beat the Crusaders, who won an earlier matchup between the two teams at the McKinleyville tournament last month.
St. Bernard’s is currently ranked No. 31 overall in the North Coast Section, seven spots above the Huskies.
That game will be broadcast live on the radio at 95.1 and 106.7 FM., with the pre-game show getting under way at 7:15 p.m.
Eureka and Del Norte, meanwhile, will each host South Medford this week, on Friday and Saturday respectively.
The Panthers are 9-2 and ranked No. 3 in the state of Oregon, so they should give the two Big 5 teams a good test.
Hoopa boys open at Ferndale
On the boys side, the Little 4 gets under way in earnest this week, with a pair of matchups on Thursday and a make-up game on Saturday.
The Hoopa Valley Warriors will open at Ferndale (0-1) on Thursday, while St. Bernard’s (1-0) will host South Fork in the Cubs’ opener on the same night.
The Warriors and Cubs will also meet on Saturday at Hoopa, in a game that was re-scheduled from last week.
The Warriors are heavy favorites heading into conference play, and we should find out quickly if they’re worthy of that label.
Both Ferndale and South Fork, however, will each feel they’re capable of challenging for the league crown after a successful pre-league campaign, and they won’t lack confidence going into the two games.
In non-conference action this week, Hoopa plays at Eureka on Monday night, while Fortuna hosts St. Bernard’s on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. in a game that will also be broadcast live on 95.1 and 106.7 FM.