By Ray Hamill — The McKinleyville girls basketball team was left disappointed on Monday when a home game in the North Coast Section playoffs was taken away.
The Panthers, who are seeded No. 8 in the Division-IV bracket, were scheduled to play their NCS opener in front of a home crowd against No. 9 Saint Mary’s on Wednesday night.
Saint Mary’s, however, was forced to forfeit after problems surfaced with the paperwork filed, automatically sending the McKinleyville girls on to the second round.
Unfortunately, however, it also means the Panthers now won’t get to host a playoff game, and head coach Tony McClure said his girls were left “very disappointed” with the decision.
This would have been their first home NCS game since 2012.
It’s been a breakout season for a McKinleyville program that has struggled in recent years.
The Panthers, who were winless in the Big 5 in each of the past two seasons, finished 4-4 and third in the standings this season, making it back to the Dick Niclai tournament for the first time in five years.
The Panthers are 14-13 overall, their best mark since 2014.
And with a varsity roster that features just two seniors, and a JV program that finished a perfect 8-0 in the Big 5 this winter, they should be even better going forward.
The Panthers will now turn their attention to Saturday’s second-round matchup at No. 1 seed St. Patrick/St. Vincent.
The Bruins, who play in Vallejo, are 24-3 on the season and the No. 2 ranked Division-IV program in the state.