By Ray Hamill — The Fortuna Huskies are moving on in the NorCals, and they’re getting another home game.
They also achieved something no other Humboldt-Del Norte League team has managed in the past decade.
On Tuesday night, Fortuna took care of business at home to Liberty Ranch in the opening round of the prestigious boys basketball tournament, running out to an 85-77 win.
The victory for the No. 7 seeds, coupled with No. 15 Foothill’s 62-57 upset over No. 2 Las Lomas, means they will now get to host Thursday night’s NorCal quarterfinal against the lower seeds.
It was also the team’s 30th win of the season, giving them more wins than any other H-DNL team over the past decade.
The Huskies, who rebound nicely from Saturday’s North Coast Section championship loss to Branson, are now 30-2, giving them one more win than the great McKinleyville girls team of 2009/10, which was 29-4, and four more wins than any other boys team in that spell.
Coming to life
The Huskies started the slower of the two teams on Tuesday, and trailed 9-2 before gradually coming to life offensively.
But they closed out the first quarter on a 15-6 run to lead by two going into the second.
A dangerous Liberty Ranch team never looked like it was going to go down easily, and battled back to lead on a couple of occasions midway through the second.
Three consecutive unanswered 3-pointers by three different Fortuna players, however, saw the momentum switch right back and began to fuel a loud and packed home crowd.
The Huskies led by as many as 10 after a Drew Gillette basket in the final minute of the quarter, and held an eight-point advantage at halftime.
They stretched it back to 10 again after three quarters, and were able to hold on down the stretch in what was a high-scoring second half.
The Huskies scored 20-plus points in three of the four quarters, while holding the visitors below 20 in three of the four.
Donald Willis led Fortuna offensively with 23 points, while Gillette added 21 and Bradley Willis 20 in what was another balanced performance from the home team.
Zac Claus finished with 12 points and Fernando Atilano with seven.
Thursday’s game is set for 7 p.m.