Basketball

Defensive-minded Huskies top Del Norte yet again

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Photos by Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com – Fortuna senior Kevin Noel looks on at a free-throw attempt in front of a packed house on Saturday night.

By Ray Hamill — The Fortuna Huskies have been putting up points for fun all season.

On Saturday, they won with a different formula, defeating Big 5 rivals Del Norte in the North Coast Section Division-IV quarterfinals by a score of 56-37 at Fortuna High.

“Tonight was the best defense we’ve had all year,” Fortuna head coach Tony Miles said. “And it was nice to have that control of the game.”

Just three days after scoring 106 points against Fort Bragg, the Huskies held the Warriors to just 10 points combined in the second and third quarters as they pulled away from the visitors.

“I thought defense tonight was our key. We’ve kind of been focused on that this week,” Miles said. “And I thought our boys did a good job. We had a plan and we stuck with it.”

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Fortuna’s Fernando Atilano defends on a play Saturday night.

Donald Willis finished with a team-high 18 points  for Fortuna, in a game that got a little feisty in the third quarter between two familiar foes.

This was a remarkable fourth meeting between the two Big 5 rivals this season, including last weekend’s Dick Niclai Championship, with Fortuna taking all four games.

This, however, was the most comprehensive victory of them all, for a Fortuna team that has lifted its game to even greater heights in the postseason.

“Beating any team four times is tough,” Miles said. “I’m just proud of my boys.”

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Bradley Willis added 15 points in the win, while Drew Gillette finished with 10 points.

The visiting Warriors matched the home team early on and took a two-point lead into the second quarter.

The Huskies, however, began to settle into the game more and more, going on a 12-0 run to start the second quarter, while holding Del Norte scoreless for six and a half minutes.

The advantage was 12 at halftime after a pair of late Fortuna baskets, including a buzzer beater on a clever inbound pass from Zac Claus to an open Bradley Willis under the basket with 1.5 seconds remaining.

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Fortuna head coach Tony Miles and his bench looks on during Saturday’s game.

The Huskies carried that momentum into the third quarter, going on a 17-2 run at one stage as the game got physical with the visitors clearly frustrated.

The Huskies didn’t let it bother them, and if anything seemed to feed off of it with a composed response.

Donald Willis closed out the quarter with three free throws to give the Huskies a commanding 25-point advantage.

The win was the 15th straight for the 28-1 Huskies, who are seeded No. 2 and will now host No. 3 St. Mary’s (24-6) on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

St. Mary’s defeated Marin Catholic 60-52 on Saturday.

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3 replies »

  1. The Warriors plan was simple. Knowing the North Coast Section are too cheap to pay for a third referee they played a physical game. There was know way a two man crew could call the game correctly or with player safety a consideration. Some might say the bald official turned a blind eye to player safety all together. Once watching a Warrior laying on top of a Huskie and preventing him from getting to his feet. A second time a Huskie taking a shot to the head after they were called for a travel, a flagrant should have been called but nothing was. The fact that the Warriors had three players foul out of the game is a testament to what they were trying to accomplish. Fortunately the Huskies proved for the fourth time this season who the better team is. Their quest to a section title will continue.

    • As for refs…not their fault ncs is a cheap bag of emptiness and zilch…can’t imagine only 1 ref with 22 student athletes active on a soccer field, but it happens when there is not enough refs…

      …as for playoffs, refs never in short supply in league territories…

  2. Off the ball fouls never get called enough…kinda depicts the lack of ref skills and awareness…running a 2 ref system sucks because the only way it works is front court and back court must be viewed separately by refs using only one eye while both refs use the other eye to overlap the off the ball triangulated menage a trois (satire) for that Caspar of a 3rd ref…

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