By Ray Hamill — If last year’s Big 5 race in boys basketball was close, this year’s is even more so, and heading into the final night of action on Friday there’s plenty still to play for.
Fortuna, of course, has set the standard in this year’s conference, running out to a relatively easy championship, which the Huskies claimed late last week.
The rest of the Big 5, however, is about as close it gets, with the distinct possibility we could see a four-way tie for second.
And it’s been an up-and-down campaign for most.
On Wednesday night, the McKinleyville Panthers won their third straight in the Big 5 to improve to 3-4, while handing Del Norte a third straight league loss as the Warriors dropped to 3-4.
Arcata, meanwhile, fell hard at home to Fortuna by a score of 64-39, and closed out the Big 5 at 3-5.
Eureka, which won a non-conference game against Ferndale on Wednesday and has now won three of its past four games, is 2-5 in the Big 5 heading into the final night of action.
If the Loggers can win at Del Norte on Friday, and the Panthers lose at Fortuna, then the Big 5 will see four teams close out at 3-5.
A series of tiebreakers will then be used to decide who gets the Nos. 2 and 3 seeds for next week’s Dick Niclai tournament.
“We’re ready to keep the season alive,” Eureka head coach Robbie Thompson said.
And he’s not alone.
An unlikely win for McKinleyville at the league leaders would see the Panthers clinch at least a tie for second, so they have plenty of motivation and momentum, having won five straight games.
It won’t be easy, however, at what is likely to be a rocking Fortuna gymnasium on senior night for a special group of senior players.
A win for Del Norte and a loss for Mack, on the other hand, would see the Warriors take second and the Panthers fall into a tied with Arcata for third, setting up a single tiebreaker for the No. 3 seed.