Basketball

NorCal Girls — Eureka, Del Norte go down fighting

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Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com – Eureka’s Makaila Napoleon lines up a free throw on Tuesday night.

Both the Eureka and Del Norte girls saw fourth-quarter rallies come up just short on Wednesday night, as each fell out of the NorCal tournament at the first hurdle.

The No. 8 Loggers fell at home to No. 9 Aragon out of San Mateo by a score of 47-44 in Division-III action, while the No. 6 Warriors lost in Crescent City to No. 11 Palo Alto, 75-70 in Division II.

Both saw memorable seasons come to an end.

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Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com – Eureka’s Carly Boynton had a couple of big baskets in the fourth quarter to help key a late rally.

Eureka 44, Aragon 47

The Loggers were held to just two points in the third quarter as the visitors stretched a two-point lead to 11 heading into the fourth.

The Eureka girls rallied late, however, outscoring the Dons in the fourth quarter and cutting the gap to a single score on a couple of occasions.

But neither team was able to score in the final 3:40 of the game, as the visitors held on for the win.

“I thought we played hard,” Eureka head coach Michael Harvey said. “We played to the end, and that was important. It was a nice comeback in the fourth quarter.”

Senior Makaila Napoleon closed out a very impressive career with the Loggers with another big game, scoring a team-high 17, including six in the fourth quarter to key the late rally.

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Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com – Eureka’s Paige Lyons tries to defend a shot on Tuesday.

Sophia Chalmers added 11 points, including nine in the second quarter to help keep her team in contention, while Dorshaela Wesson finished with eight points.

Carly Boynton added a pair of big fourth-quarter baskets.

The Loggers close out the season 21-11.

“I’m proud of the girls. I believe we had a great season,” Harvey said. “They have nothing to hang their heads about. They’re a great group of ladies.”

Del Norte 70, Palo Alto 75

Matching up against a far larger school, the Warriors rallied late to pull within a score of the visiting Palo Alto girls, but were unable to reel them in, bowing out of the playoffs and ending an historic season for the program,

The Del Norte girls won a first-ever Big 5 title this season, as well as their second-ever Dick Niclai tournament, and followed that with a successful run through the North Coast Section playoffs all the way to the championship game.

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Michael Zogg/The Del Norte Triplicate – Del Norte’s Kaleya Sanchez drives to the basket on Tuesday night.

They were moved up two divisions for the NorCal tournament, however, and matched up with the far larger Division-I program, which dropped down a level for the tournament.

“We played good, but it was hard to stop them,” Del Norte head coach Justin Clifton said. “When you play a school that’s got four times your population, that’s not right. It’s a broken system.

“With that being said, our girls played a very good basketball game.”

The visitors gradually pulled away from the home team through the opening three quarters and led by double digits heading into the fourth.

After being down by as many as 14, however, the home team rallied late, closing the gap to just three in the final minute.

“It was the loudest I’ve heard that gym since 2002,” Clifton said. “The gym was so loud.”

Kaleya Sanchez closed out a remarkable career with the program with another outstanding night, finishing with 34 points.

The two sophomore sensations also closed out the season strong, with Jadence Clifton scoring 21 and Bella Stone five.

Stone hit a pivotal 3-pointer late.

Overall it was a very impressive season for a school not traditionally known for its girls basketball.

“Phenomenal season,” the head coach said. “Absolutely phenomenal season.”

Clifton added that they will retire Sanchez’s number.

“I’m very proud of her,” he said of the program’s all-time leading scorer. “She’s a very, very fun kid to coach.”

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