Stakes a little higher as NCS play begins



Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Fortuna’s Moncerrat Bernal and her teammates will open the NCS playoffs at Urban on Wednesday.

By Ray Hamill — Get ready for a wild night of NCS basketball on the local courts on Wednesday, with no less than 12 H-DNL teams in action, including nine of them opening at home.

Call it a sort of February madness.

Highlighting the packed schedule of games, the Fortuna boys open at home to Fort Bragg with big expectations.

The Huskies are the No. 2 ranked Division-IV team in the state, and will be favored at home against the Timberwolves, who come into the game as the No. 15 seed in their bracket and with nothing to lose.

The Huskies have shown no sign of any pressure getting to them thus far, and if anything they have not just risen to the challenge, but appear to be relishing it.

On their night, they appear unstoppable, and that’s why they enter the NCS as the No. 2 seed in their bracket, second only to a Branson team that is also No. 1 in the state.

From now on, however, there is no more room for error, and one bad night could end a season in quick disappointment.

And that uncertainty makes the games all the more intriguing.


Fortuna’s Kevin Noel, left, defends Del Norte’s Anthony Slayton during Friday’s Niclai championship game at Lumberjack Arena.

Big expectations

Big things are also expected this postseason out of a number of other local teams, most notably the St. Bernard’s and Del Norte girls.

The Crusaders are the only No. 1 seed out of the 14 local teams to qualify for the playoffs, and will open at home to No. 16 Branson on Wednesday night, as a part of a doubleheader with the school’s boys team, seeded seventh, which opens against No. 10 Archbishop Hanna.

The boys get under way at 5:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast live on 95.1 and 106.7 FM, with the girls getting started at 7 p.m.

The boys/girls doubleheader at St. Bernard’s is one of three locally on Wednesday.

Crescent City, always a tough place to play for opposing teams, will be twice as intimidating with both the boys and girls teams hosting.

Coming off an historic season and appearing to grow stronger each week, the Del Norte girls are seeded No. 2 in Division IV and open against No. 15 Gateway at 7 p.m., following the No. 7 Del Norte boys, who play No. 10 Middletown at 5:30.

The third local doubleheader of the night will take place in Miranda, where the South Fork boys could be ready to surprise some people down south this postseason.

One of the most dynamic teams in the area on their night, the No. 6 seed Cubs open against No. 11 Rincon Valley Christian in Division VI, while the school’s girls team, seeded seventh, opens against No. 10 San Francisco Waldorf.

Also in Division VI, the No. 6 Ferndale girls host No. 11 Potter Valley, while in Division IV, the No. 10 Fortuna girls travel to play at No. 7 Urban.

In boys action, No. 5 Hoopa Valley could be ready to make some serious noise in a tough Division-V bracket, and will open at home to No. 12 Urban.

In Division IV, both No. 9 McKinleyville and No. 11 Arcata each travel for opening-round games, playing at No. 8 Lick Wilmerding and No. 6 Marin Catholic, respectively.

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