Basketball

Warriors building momentum despite OT loss to Medford

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Photos by Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com – Del Norte head coach Justin Clifton talks to his players during Friday’s game at McKinleyville.

Jadence Clifton had a breakout game for the Del Norte Warriors on Saturday afternoon, in a 79-76 overtime loss to South Medford.

The whole Del Norte team, in fact, turned in one of its best performances of the season against the No. 4 ranked team in Oregon, and the Warriors appear to be clicking at a perfect time, with arguably their most important game of the season this Wednesday.

“We are playing very, very good basketball right now,” head coach Justin Clifton said. “We’re right at the peak. We haven’t hit the mountain top yet, but we’re right there, which is great timing with Eureka coming up.”

The Warriors, who are the top ranked local team, will host Eureka in a midweek matchup of 3-0 Big 5 teams and a game that is likely to have a huge say in deciding the conference crown.

A win would be a major step toward what would be a first-ever league title for the Crescent City program.

And the Warriors are looking forward to the showdown.

“The girls are pumped,” Justin Clifton said.

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Del Norte’s Bella Stone

Half-court dramatics

On Saturday, it took a half-court buzzer-beater by South Medford to send the game into overtime, as the Warriors competed far more effectively against the same team that had comfortably defeated Eureka the night before.

The loss was just the second of the season for the 14-2 Warriors, who saw their 10-game winning streak snapped.

What’s perhaps most impressive about the Warriors is that they are winning this season with three starting sophomores, and only one starting senior.

One of those sophomores, Jadence Clifton, had a huge game in Saturday’s loss, finishing with 26 points, including shooting 6-of-9 from 3-point range, as well as 11 rebounds and six assists.

She did this while being guarded by a Division-I senior commit, Ula Chamberlain.

Senior Kaleya Sanchez continued to be a force for the home team, finishing with 35 points, while a second sophomore guard, Bella Stone, had 13 points, and has quickly developed into one of the most dangerous guards in the Big 5.

Defensively, junior Daniela Zepeda had a big game for the home team.

“I’m excited moving forward,” the head coach said. “We’re playing excellent basketball right now. Wednesday is a huge game for us.

“The girls are pumped big time. We finally had a breakout game.”

Chamberlain, who will play next year at Weber Sate, finished with 21 points for South Medford, which knocked off Eureka 78-53 on Friday, and is now 13-2.

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