By Ray Hamill — It was a wild night of action for local teams in the North Coast Section basketball playoffs on Wednesday, with several close games in the semifinal round, as you might expect.
The closest game involving any of the five Humboldt-Del Norte League teams playing took place at St. Bernard’s, as the Crusaders defeated University by a score of 38-35.
The top seeded SB girls continued to play outstanding defense, and the win sets up an NCS championship showdown at home on Saturday night.
Two other teams won their semifinals on Wednesday, giving the H-DNL three teams in the championship round, a very healthy return for the league.
The Del Norte girls got the better of a San Francisco opponent for the third time in eight days in Division IV, holding off a competitive Lick-Wilmerding team by a score of 47-42.
The win sends the No. 2 seed Del Norte girls into their first-ever NCS championship, where they will play No. 1 seed St. Patrick-St. Vincent at Benicia High on Friday night.
And they weren’t the only local team to qualify for a first-ever NCS championship.
In the boys Division-IV bracket, Fortuna defeated visiting Saint Mary’s in a thriller by a score of 76-62 in a game that was a lot closer than the final score would suggest.
All five starting seniors turned in an inspirational performance for the Huskies against one of the toughest opponents they’ve seen all season.
And with the game hanging in the balance in the fourth quarter, the Fortuna players displayed a veteran composure in lifting their game when they needed it the most.
The win sets up a mouthwatering clash for the NCS championship against Branson at College of Marin on Friday night, in what will be a showdown between two of the top three ranked Division-IV teams in the state.
Also in action on Wednesday night, the Eureka girls lost 61-35 on the road to Salesian, the top ranked D-III girls team in the state, while the Hoopa Valley boys fell 82-58 on the road against Stuart Hall, the top-ranked Division-V boys team in the state.
Both Eureka and Hoopa will be back in action in next week’s NorCal tournament.