VOTING HAS CLOSED
By Ray Hamill — The Big 5 gets under way next week in boys and girls basketball, with little to choose from this year between the top contenders in each conference.
Last season, both the Fortuna boys and Del Norte girls were pretty much unstoppable in league play, but this year there does not appear to be a dominant frontrunner, or at least not yet.
On the boys side, the defending champion Huskies (6-9) have had an up-and-down season so far but have definitely been competitive, while Arcata (10-6), Del Norte (11-1) and Eureka (9-4) have all looked impressive on the way to posting winning records.
McKinleyville has struggled in terms of wins and losses, but no one will be taking a fast-improving Panthers team lightly when they tip off on Wednesday.
Opening night features a pair of huge games, with Fortuna traveling to McKinleyville and Eureka hosting Del Norte.
It should be an interesting race.
Likewise with the girls.
Fortuna is the top-ranked local girls team, according to MaxPreps, and the Huskies certainly have looked impressive this far, storming out of the gate with a 14-1 record.
Eureka, meanwhile, is 13-4, but has played a tougher schedule with an eye on the Division-III NCS playoffs, and the Loggers look well capable of a serious league challenge this winter.
Del Norte is a bit of a wild card.
With a record of 9-5, the Warriors don’t appear quite as dominating as a year ago, but they also have played a tough schedule and are expected to be in the mix for a second straight title.
McKinleyville (4-9) and Arcata (7-7) also have impressed at times this season, and won’t be taken lightly by any of their opponents in a league that shouldn’t feature any easy nights.
The girls tip off on Tuesday night, with McKinleyville at Fortuna and Eureka at Del Norte.