By Ray Hamill — It appears as if the Humboldt-Del Norte League is ready to make some noise in the North Coast Section basketball playoffs.
At least according to the latest MaxPreps rankings.
Of the 18 local teams, two are currently ranked No. 1 in their respective NCS brackets, and neither of them are arguably even the best local squad.
Two others are currently ranked in the top four in their brackets, while exactly half the local teams are in the top eight.
And that should make for an interesting NCS postseason, which gets under way next week after the bracket seedings are announced on Sunday.
Leading the charge are the Fortuna boys and Del Norte and St. Bernard’s girls, all of whom will be expected to challenge for a section crown.
The Del Norte girls are No. 1 in Division IV, as are the St. Bernard’s girls in Division V, and if either gets the top seed they will be present a difficult challenge for any teams that have to travel all the way to the North Coast to play.
The Warriors are also the No. 2 ranked Division-IV team in the state, trailing only Menlo Atherton, although a strong St. Patrick-St. Vincent team is ranked one spot behind them in both the state and NCS rankings and should also be in the mix.
Huskies riding high
The Fortuna boys, meanwhile, are arguably the most anticipated local story of the playoffs, with big things expected out of this once in a generation class of seniors.
The Huskies have lost just once all season and are the No. 2 ranked Division-IV team in both the NCS and state, trailing a very dangerous Branson team in each.
If these are the two teams to come out of the NCS bracket, they will each present a serious challenge to any team from any other section, while a potential championship game between the two could be a thriller.
Another local team that will be expected to make a playoff run is the Eureka girls, who are No. 4 in Division III.
A couple of disappointing losses to Del Norte doesn’t take from the fact the Loggers have a good team this year, and one that should be playoff ready after a strong pre-league schedule that featured several top programs.
Others in the mix
The Ferndale girls, meanwhile are ranked fifth in Division VI, while the Del Norte boys, the St. Bernard’s boys and the Hoopa Valley boys are each ranked No. 7 in their respective divisions.
The Hoopa boys are particularly intriguing, and having won 10 of their past 11 games will go into the postseason with some momentum.
They represent a great story in Division V as well, as the last public school to win a section crown in a bracket loaded with top small private schools, and the only public school to do so in the past quarter century.
Trying to replicate that feat this year won’t be easy however, even considering how good the Warriors look right now.
The Division-V bracket in the NCS is loaded with some of the top teams in the state, including three of the top four and seven of the top 14.
Cubs could be dangerous
The South Fork girls, meanwhile, are No. 8 in Division VI, while the Fortuna girls are No. 9 in Division IV, one spot ahead of McKinleyville, and a dangerous South Fork boys team is No. 10 in Division VI.
On their day, the fast-paced Cubs can be a handful for anyone and their ranking seems a little underwhelming.
As does the Hoopa Valley girls at No. 12 in Division V.
Look for each of those teams to outperform their current rankings in the playoffs.
Four local boys teams are currently ranked in the top 13 in Division IV, including No. 10 McKinleyville and No. 13 Arcata., along with Fortuna and Del Norte.