The Hoopa Valley Warriors ensured there would be no late dramatics later this week by sealing the Little 4 title outright at South Fork on Monday night, the program’s first conference championship since 2014.
The Warriors won 69-59, improving to 5-0 in conference play and clinching the title with a game to spare.
It took a big fourth quarter too, with the Hoopa boys trailing by six after three, before outscoring the home team 29-13 for the period.
A much-improved Cubs team gave the Warriors everything they could handle.
“It was a tough game. It was a really tough game,” Hoopa Valley head coach Tyler Mitchell said. “(South Fork) play great at home, and their crowd gets loud.”
George Navarro led a balanced team performance by the league champs with 18 points, while Dennis Young finished with 17 points, Wade Nixon nine and John Smith eight.
The win lifts the Warriors to 19-6 overall, while the Cubs fell to 2-3 in the Little 4 and 9-12 overall.
It was the Cubs who started the stronger of the two teams, as the visitors came out sluggish.
“We were stagnant on offense in the first half. Our composure wasn’t there,” Mitchell said.
Defensively the Cubs did a good job containing the high-scoring Navarro, who averages 31.1 a game, to just 18 points.
The visitors, however, came alive in the fourth quarter, securing the league title and ending St. Bernard’s four-year reign as champions.
The championship almost certainly guarantees a home game in the North Coast Section playoffs.
St. Bernard’s 65, Eureka 78
The Loggers scored 49 first-half points on the way to a 13-point win at home to their crosstown rivals on Monday night.
Jayden Thayer led a balanced performance from the Eureka boys with 23 points, while Cahliel Garner added 12 points.
The Loggers, who improved to 6-14 with the win, started the stronger of the two teams, opening up a 25-10 lead after the opening quarter and stretching the advantage to 22 by halftime.
Lane Thrap led the Crusaders with 19 points and was an impressive 11-of-11 at the free-throw line, while Luke Fairfield finished with 15 points.
Jake Fairfield added seven points for St. Bernard’s, which fell to 11-10 with a second straight loss, while Logan Simoni also had a big game.
St. Bernard’s closes out the regular season at Hoopa Valley on Friday.
For Eureka, Austin Maples scored 10 points, while Bryson Glavich finished with eight points and Braeden Glavich with seven.
The Loggers host Ferndale on Wednesday.
St. Bernard’s 56, McKinleyville 48
The Crusaders got back to winning ways with a non-conference win at McKinleyville on Monday, their second in three matchups this season against the Panthers.
Jasa Sisemore scored a team-high 17 points to lead the St. Bernard’s girls to a come-from-behind win, nailing all 10 of her fourth-quarter free throws.
The visitors trailed for much of the night, and found themselves 10 points adrift at halftime after scoring just four points in the second quarter.
The Crusaders, however, came alive late, outscoring the home team by 10 points in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Mckenzie Finck added 13 points in the win, including three 3-pointers, while Emily Gardner finished with 10 points.
“Our defense was outstanding tonight,” St. Bernard’s head coach Mark Gardner said. “We had excellent pressure on their shots and good rebounding as well.”
St. Bernard’s, which saw a 12-game winning streak snapped against Eureka on Saturday, is now 18-5.
For McKinleyville, which dropped to 13-11, Rayn Tripp scored a team-high 17 points, while Rian Henan finished with 13 points and Cameron Heenan eight.
McKinleyville continues a busy week at Del Norte on Tuesday, while St. Bernard’s hosts Hoopa Valley on Thursday in a game that will decide the Little 4 championship.
Hoopa improved to 4-1 in the Little 4 with a win at South Fork on Monday. No other details were available.
St. Bernard’s comes into the final showdown at 5-0 in league and having already clinched at least a share of the championship.