By Ray Hamill — The Eureka Loggers are expected to challenge for a conference championship in girls basketball when the Big 5 tips off next week, with plenty of balance, depth and game changers on hand.
And most importantly, this is a team that has shown it will fight all the way.
“They never quit,” head coach Michael Harvey said of his players on Saturday. “They work hard, and they care about each other, and work ethic matters.”
It certainly has so far for the Eureka girls, who will begin league play with an impressive record of 13-4 after dominating Amijo High 53-15 to close out the Liberty tournament on Saturday.
But they will be tested right off the bat in the Big 5, with trips to Del Norte and Fortuna, two teams that have also looked very impressive through the early season.
In fact, Harvey expects every team to contend this winter.
“It’s going to be a five-team battle,” he said.
Guards Sophia Chalmers and Kellina Pratton have led the way for much of the season for the Loggers, but seniors Carly Boynton and Malia Guilbert have each also begun to play a major role and provide some much-needed leadership to a relatively young roster.
“This weekend Carly Boynton really stepped up,” Harvey said of the senior who was named all-tournament. “I’m really happy with Carly’s progression.
“And one of the most pleasant surprises is Malia Guilbert and how much she’s stepped up.”
Junior Bella Vigil and sophomore McKenna Beach each also has been a consistent threat for the team, while juniors Keylei Carroll and Aquene Tollefson have been setting the tone defensively.
“They’re both good defensively and add so much to our team,” Harvey said of Carroll and Tollefson.
Freshman Claire Maples also has been impressing in her debut campaign at the high school level, while some of the other younger players got to see some valuable playing time in Saturday’s blowout.
Madi Broese scored a game-high 12 points in the win, while Naiya Anderson and Maddie Woods each finished with eight points.
Boynton added six points and Melody Bareilles five points as the Loggers ran out to a 25-2 lead after the opening quarter.
Guilbert and Pratton were each also named all-tournament.
The Loggers open league play at Del Norte on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. and will play at Fortuna on Thursday night at the same time.
“We’ll know a lot more after this week,” Harvey said.
The Eureka JVs will also carry some momentum into league play next week after defeating Liberty 38-36 in the tournament championship at the same tournament on Saturday.