By Ray Hamill — The Fortuna Huskies will carry plenty of momentum into Thursday night’s big NorCal tournament quarterfinal at home to Foothill, but they also know they’ll need to cut down on their turnovers if they want to keep playing.
In what has been a remarkable season for the program, and a thrilling playoff run for their fans, the team has been uncharacteristically giving away possession too easily recently, and it’s something head coach Tony Miles has been addressing.
“It’s uncharacteristic for us,” Miles said.
Tuesday’s NorCal first-round matchup at home to Liberty Ranch ended up being a little closer than it perhaps should have been, in large part because of some sloppy ball handling late.
“They played pretty well,” Miles said of his players after the 85-77 win. “There was a little stretch where we had issues, but other than that they played well.”
It has certainly been a fun ride for the Huskies, and their fans, who have packed the home gymnasium to near capacity for each of their playoff games, giving the team a substantial and loud home-court advantage.
And that’s something the players apparently have been feeding off.
“I love it,” Miles said. “I’m hoping it will be a big crowd again tomorrow, the community support, the gym packed.
“It’s good for the community. It’s good for the school. All the girls basketball players are there. It’s good for the program.”
The Huskies are seeded seventh in the Division-III bracket, with Foothill seeded 15th and coming off an upset of sorts over No. 2 Las Lomas, although the Cougars came into that game ranked 99 spots ahead of the higher seeds in the MaxPreps state rankings.
For comparison, Foothill is ranked No. 177 in the state, while the Huskies are No. 72.
The Cougars have won seven of their last eight games, with their only loss in that spell coming at the hands of Pleasant Valley in last weekend’s Northern Section Division-III championship game.
They are led by senior Josiah Hutt, who leads the team with 18.3 points per game and 5.7 rebounds.
His teammate Luke Lindsey is averaging 11.7 points and five boards.
“They’ve got some size,” Miles said when asked about the challenges the visitors present. “And their movement off the ball. They’re always moving, and they’re a smart defensive team.”
Enjoying the moment
The Huskies, meanwhile, have now won 30 games this season, more than other Humboldt-Del Norte League team, boys or girls, in a single season in the past decade.
They are 30-2 on the season, with last week’s defeat at the hands of Branson their only loss since late December.
And, according to their coach, the players are enjoying the moment.
“They’re definitely enjoying it,” Miles said. “It’s not a very emotional group, so it’s hard to see their emotions, but they’re happy to be still playing. They want to play into March.”
As for Thursday’s game, Miles is looking for his players to do what they do best and perform like they have been all season.
“We need to hit our shots,” he said. “And turnovers, we need to keep turnovers under 10, like we have all year.”
Game time is set for 7 p.m.