By Ray Hamill — The Tigers were unable to contain Fortuna senior Camrin Dolcini, as the Huskies came away with a much-needed and hard-fought Big 5 win in girls basketball at Arcata on Friday night.
The Huskies led by double digits at halftime, but had to withstand a big Arcata comeback in the second half before holding on for a 51-47 victory.
Elsewhere in the Big 5 on Friday night, Kaleya Sanchez led the Del Norte Warriors to a crucial conference win at McKinleyville, keeping them unbeaten in conference play and setting up a top-of-the table clash with Eureka next Wednesday.
In the Little 4, St. Bernard’s improved to 2-0 with a comfortable 66-25 win at South Fork, while in non-league action, the Loggers lost 78-53 to a quality South Medford team at Eureka High.
Fortuna 51, Arcata 47
Trailing by double digits at halftime, the Tigers came out on fire after the break and battled the Huskies all the way.
But Fortuna’s Dolcini was the catalyst as the visitors posted a crucial first conference win to end a three-game losing skid.
“I like the energy we came out with,” said Fortuna head coach Jesse Genaro, whose team had started slow in each of their first two league games, both losses.
The Fortuna girls also had to overcome a couple of injuries and a lot of sickness throughout the lineup all week.
“They battled through it,” Genaro said.
Dolcini was inspirational in the win, finishing with a team-high 17 points but contributing in more ways than that.
“Camrin Dolcini played a tremendous game. We just couldn’t stop her from penetrating,” Arcata head coach Doug Oliveira said. “She played well against us last year, but this year she took it to a whole new level.”
Charlotte Carroll, who is fast developing into one of the top post players in the area, added 15 points in the win, while Bailey Parker finished with 11.
“It was a big win for us,” Genaro said. “That loss against St. Bernard’s (on Wednesday) was pretty heartbreaking. It was good to bounce back.”
With the win, the Huskies improve to 11-8 overall and 1-2 in the Big 5.
A young Tigers team continued to show promise and improvement, and has recovered well from a blowout loss against Eureka a week ago.
The Tigers may have dropped both of this week’s games to Del Norte and Fortuna, but they were far more competitive in each, a good sign for a young roster.
“We’re getting better,” Oliveira said. “After we got blown out by Eureka, we kind of had to have a little gut check, and our goal is to be better every day we step on the floor, and I’m pleased because we have been getting better every day.”
Kali Zanotti had a big game for Arcata, keeping her team in it early on and finishing with a game-high 19 points, while Jocelyn Bliven capped an impressive week with 14 points.
“Jocelyn has been playing really well the last two games,” Oliveira said.
“I tip my hat to Arcata,” Genaro said. “Doug’s got them battling. They’re a scrappy team.”
Arcata (0-4 in the Big 5 and 7-11 overall) hosts Hoopa Valley on Monday, while Fortuna will host McKinleyville on Wednesday in a key conference battle for each.
In JV action, the Fortuna girls remained perfect on the season and improved to 17-0 with a comfortable 60-22 win over Arcata.
The Huskies had nine players score, led by Skylar Little with 19 points and Saige Grundman with nine.
St. Bernard’s 66, South Fork 25
The three St. Bernard’s senior captains were a combined 14-for-14 at the free-throw line in the third quarter as the Crusaders pulled away at South Fork on the way to a 41-point win.
Jasa Sisemore, Emily Gardner and Maddie Costa each stepped up in a physical game to lead the Crusaders to a dominating second half.
With the win, their eighth straight, the Crusaders improve to 13-5 overall and 2-0 in the Little 4.
“I’m very proud of my girls for playing with poise and class,” said St. Bernard’s head coach Mark Gardner, who also praised the officials for calling a good game in the second half and preventing a “bad situation from getting worse.”
Defensively, the visitors held South Fork to just four second-half points.
Sisemore scored a game-high 24 points, including going 9-of-11 from the line, while Gardner added 17 points and was 5-for-5 at the line.
Costa added 10 points, while teammate Sabrina Gardner finished with six points.
No scoring details were available for South Fork.
As a team, the Crusaders were 19-of-22 from the free-throw line in the second half.
St. Bernard’s started the stronger of the two teams and led 21-6 after the opening quarter, but the home team matched them stride for stride in the second period and the gap had only grown by one at halftime.
Next up for St. Bernard’s is a trip to Hoopa Valley on Wednesday, while South Fork (0-1 in the L4 and 8-7 overall, will host Ferndale on the same day.
South Medford 78, Eureka 53
The Loggers got a big test against the No. 4 ranked team in Oregon on Friday night, but were unable to pull out a win in what was a competitive game until the final few minutes.
With seven points separating the two teams and four minutes remaining, the visitors scored the final 18 points of the game to pull away and seal the win.
“We didn’t make our outside shots and we shot 50 percent from the free-throw line,” Eureka head coach Michael Harvey said. “We could easily have won that game.”
Makaila Napoleon led a balanced offensive performance from the Loggers, scoring a team-high 13 points.
Paige Lyons added 12 points, Dorshaela Wesson nine and Sophia Chalmers eight.
The Loggers (13-5) trailed big in the first half, but battled their way back to within seven points midway through the fourth quarter.
Harvey went to his bench for the final couple of minutes, as the visitors pulled away.
“I was proud of my girls,” the head coach said. “It was good for us.”
South Medford (12-2) will play at Del Norte on Saturday afternoon, while next up for the Loggers is a top-of-the table clash at Del Norte on Wednesday.