The Del Norte girls took a major step toward a first-ever Big 5 title in girls basketball on Wednesday night, running out to a decisive 48-21 win over closest challengers Eureka in Crescent City.
Halfway through the league campaign, the Warriors are 4-0, while the Loggers dropped to 3-1.
Afterwards, Del Norte head coach Justin Clifton praised his team defense, which has been outstanding all season and held the Loggers to just four first-half points.
“Our defense was just lock down,” Clifton said. “They could not score. They could not get their shots off.”
The Loggers were never in the game, failing to score any points in the opening quarter and trailing by 23 at halftime.
Jadence Clifton had another strong performance for the Warriors, finishing with a game-high 17 points, while Bella Stone had nine and Kaleya Sanchez and Selene Ledezma eight each.
But it was the team defense that sparked the statement win.
“Sanchez, she completely shut down (Makaila) Napoleon,” Justin Clifton said. “And Daniela Zepeda did a great job defensively, and Bella Stone, and everyone.”
‘Ice cold’ Loggers
Eureka head coach Michael Harvey also paid tribute to Del Norte’s defensive effort.
“I’ve got to give it to coach Clifton, his defense was phenomenal. Their pressure defense was very good,” Harvey said. “With that being said, we came out ice cold. It was one of those things where we could not buy a bucket.”
Things didn’t get any easier for the Loggers when senior Makaila Napoleon got in foul trouble early and she was forced to sit.
When she did return she was sidelined again with a poke in the eye, but was able to return again in the second half.
“Del Norte’s a tough place to play,” Harvey said. “And they played very well, and we were ice cold.”
Harvey went deep to his bench in the fourth quarter with the game well out of hand.
Warriors in control
The win lifts the Warriors to 15-2 on the season, while Eureka dropped to 13-6.
“It was a good night for basketball,” Justin Clifton said. “It’s still early in league, but we control our own destiny. Every game from here on is like a league championship for us.”
Through their opening four Big 5 games, the Warriors have outscored their opponents by an average of more than 15 points, including three of them by double digits.
The Loggers will try to rebound at Fortuna on Friday night and will be hoping to put this one behind them quickly.
They’ll get a second shot against Del Norte at home in the season finale on Jan. 31.
“We have to have short memories, and we have to work hard in practice,” Harvey said. “We just couldn’t find a bucket and sometimes these things happen. But we have them at home, and we have to take care of business in the meantime.”