By Ray Hamill — The Del Norte Warriors have come storming out of the gates in boys basketball this season, and will go into league play next week with an impressive record of 11-1.
Whether that will be enough to catapult this year’s team to a Big 5 title remains to be seen, but first-year head coach Marc Slayton feels his squad is definitely headed in the right direction.
And after a late start to the campaign for a number of the players who were still playing football until mid-December, the Warriors have made some big strides since then.
“I like the way we’re coming along. We still have a way to go to where we want to be, but we’re playing well and starting to trust each other,” Slayton said. “I like where we are right now. It’s a good hard-working group and they come to practice every day and they want to get better.”
The Warriors’ league challenge will center around senior scoring threat Omar Banuelos, who has been on fire through the early season, as expected.
“He’s our leader on and off the court,” Slayton said. “But we have a nice group of kids around him.”
That includes a pair of football standouts who have quickly adapted to the basketball court, seniors Anthony Slayton and Kobe Mitchell, as well as point guard Damian Dowd who continues to grow into the role.
Anthony Slayton gives the Warriors a defensive presence in the paint to go with his scoring, while Mitchell has one of the team’s top perimeter defenders.
Kaleb Price also has been a threat for the team, as has Judson Pincombe off the bench.
“He’s coming around. He’s getting better,” the head coach said of the ever-improving Pincombe.
As for league play, the head coach says he’s not sure what to expect, but knows it will be tough going.
“We expect always to compete every night,” Marc Slayton said. “League is tough. Everybody knows everybody. I just know we’ll show up and give it our all, and if our all is good enough so be it.”
The Warriors will be tested right off the bat when they open at Eureka against a dangerous looking Loggers team next Wednesday.