Basketball

Big performance lifts Hoopa Valley into Little 4 lead

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File photo – John Smith was one of several bench players who impressed in Saturday’s win.

The Hoopa Valley Warriors showed exactly why they are the Little 4 favorites on Saturday, running out to an 83-59 win over visiting South Fork and taking over sole possession of top spot in the standings.

More impressively, a now healthy Hoopa team appears to be peaking at an opportune time.

“We played very, very well,” Hoopa head coach Tyler Mitchell said. “I’d say it was one of our best performances of the season.”

As usual, senior guard George Navarro led the way, but the Warriors had a far more balanced performance with several bench players stepping up.

The Cubs, on the other hand, were unable to carry over much momentum from Thursday’s breakout win at St. Bernard’s, which ended the Crusaders’ six-year unbeaten reign in conference play.

“We played poor and had too low intensity to be competitive with Hoopa,” South Fork head coach Taylor Morrow said. 

Applying pressure

Navarro continued his sensational form with another team-leading performance.

The Hoopa senior, who is averaging more than 30 points a game, finished with 29 points, while Wade Nixon added 13 and Dennis Young 12.

The impressive performance began on the defensive side of the ball.

“Defensively, we applied pressure,” said Mitchell, who had made that a priority after a recent lack of defense. “We worked on that all week, having a better defensive performance. We needed to deny the ball better, and have that energy right out of the gate.

“They definitely brought it tonight.”

Sonny Jarnaghan added eight points in the win, while several bench players stepped up, most notably John Smith, who finished with double digits in rebounds.

“He got in there and he got scrappy,” Mitchell said of Smith.

Tristin Campbell and Shaun Navarro each also had big contributions off the bench.

“They like to run, and we like to run, and I told the boys it was going to come down to who wanted it more,” Mitchell said. “I was very happy with the performance.”

With the win, the Warriors improve to 2-0 in conference play and 15-6 overall.

CJ Van Meter and Cody Wyatt each had a game-high 14 points for the Cubs, who dropped to 1-1 in the Little 4 and 8-9 overall.

Teammate Cameron Messenger finished with 11 points.

Little 4 action continues on Tuesday when Hoopa plays at St. Bernard’s, and Ferndale visits South Fork.

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