By Ray Hamill — Here we go again.
The St. Bernard’s and Cloverdale girls will match up for the second straight weekend in girls basketball in Eureka on Saturday night, when they play in the Division-V NorCal tournament semifinal.
Tip off is set for 6 p.m., an hour earlier than usual.
Last week, St. Bernard’s comfortably dispatched of the visiting Eagles by a score of 56-36 in the North Coast Section Division-V championship game.
This weekend, they’ll be hoping for more of the same, although the Eagles are unlikely to be as shellshocked the second time around and should come into the showdown better prepared.
The Crusaders are the No. 1 seed in the bracket, while the Eagles are No. 4, and each is coming off a hard-fought battle in their respective quarterfinals.
The Eagles beat Rincon Valley Christian by just four points in their quarterfinal on Thursday, after previously taking care of Trinity by a comfortable 24-point margin on Tuesday.
The Cloverdale girls have responded nicely after the NCS loss last weekend, and have now won 21 of their past 22 games, with their only defeat in that time coming against the Crusaders.
The Eagles are 27-5 on the season.
The Crusaders, meanwhile, received a forfeit win in Tuesday’s opening round when Western Sierra was unable to make the trip, and followed that with a 55-41 win over Notre Dame on Thursday in a game that was a lot closer than the final score would suggest.
The Crusaders were tested against a very balanced and fundamentally sound Spirits team, which came out pushing the home team from the opening tip off.
The senior-savvy Crusaders, however, settled down and gradually began to impose their will on the game, pulling away in the fourth quarter with some clutch free-throw shooting.
The three seniors stars — Emily Gardner, Jasa Sisemore and Maddie Costa — continue to give this team a very strong foundation, and expect all three to be a handful for the visitors once again on Saturday, while a number of juniors — Josie Peterson, Marayah Tomlinson and Mackenzie Finck — all continue to play a major role.
The Crusaders are 25-6.