The race for this year’s Big 5 and Dick Niclai championship just got a whole lot more interesting in girls basketball.
A wild night of action saw the Arcata Tigers win 42-38 at Fortuna to end the Huskies’ run of 11 straight wins and hand them a first defeat in the Big 5.
Not to be out-done, the McKinleyville girls posted their first win in conference, winning 53-45 at Del Norte to throw the race for the top-three and a place in the Niclai tournament wide open.
Tuesday’s results leave the Huskies and Eureka Loggers tied for first place at the halfway mark with identical records of 3-1, followed by Arcata (2-2) in third, and then Del Norte (1-3) and McKinleyville (1-3).
And that leaves all five teams with everything to play for in a Big 5 that is living up to expectations this season.
Also in action on Tuesday, the St. Bernard’s girls solidified their lead atop the Little 4 with a 68-33 win at home to South Fork.
The Hoopa girls, meanwhile, got their first win of the season, defeating Ferndale 53-43.
In boys action, the Eureka Loggers defeated South Fork 79-63 in non-conference action.
McKinleyville 53, Del Norte 45
The Panthers had a good night rebounding on the way to their first league win.
The ever-reliable Rayn Tripp scored a team-high 13 points in the win, while the in-form Hailee Henry continued to impress with a double-double, finishing with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
“I thought we did a good job controlling the rebounds,” said Mack head coach Tony McClure, whose team improved to 6-12 overall.
The Panthers, who have played several good teams close in losses this season, went with a new-look defense they just installed over the weekend, and it worked.
It was the first time all season the Panthers did not press once, instead operating out of a 1-3-1 zone.
They trailed for much of the night, but rallied late, outscoring the home team 20-5 in the fourth quarter.
Jadence Clifton continued to dominate for Del Norte, scoring a game-high 18 points to go with 11 rebounds and seven assists.
The Warriors got very balanced scoring after that, with Olivia Stilwell, Aleesha Ledezma, Gianna Taylor and Lily Wilson each scoring six and Kirsten Brous five.
With the loss, the Warriors are now 10-8 overall.
The two Heenan sisters also had big games for Mack, with senior Rian finishing with nine points and seven rebounds, and junior Cameron adding eight points and nine rebounds.
Arcata 42, Fortuna 38
The Tigers kept their Big 5 challenge alive at the midway point of league play, in what was a very back-and-forth matchup.
All four quarters were lopsided, one way or the other, with the Arcata girls opening up a 35-20 lead after three and holding on after that.
Junior Zoie Andre led the Tigers offensively with 12 points, while standout freshman Olivia Railsback continued her impressive campaign with 10 points.
Teammate Tatum Carlin added six points and Grace Talty five.
For Fortuna, which dropped to 17-2 overall, Gracie Betts scored a game-high 16 points while Charlotte Carroll added seven, Morgan Murray five and Gabby Stephens four.
St. Bernard’s 68, South Fork 33
The Crusaders posted another comfortable league win at home to the Cubs, opening up a big lead early and never appearing in danger of losing.
Mackenzie Finck scored a team-high 18 points to lead a balanced Bernard’s performance, while Josie Peterson added 15 points and Shelby Jordan 13.
“Our bench played well and the team worked well together,” said St. Bernard’s head coach Mark Gardner, whose team improved to 3-0 in the Little 4 and 14-5 overall. “We were a little sluggish in the second quarter, but were able to pick it up with intensity and execution in the second half.”
Marayah Tomlinson continued to set the tone defensively for the home team and added six points, while Verissa Moon chipped in five points.
For South Fork, which dropped to 0-2 in conference and 7-11 overall, Kaylee Cotter continued her impressive campaign with a game-high 19 points.
Macy Yarbrough added five points for the Cubs.
“They played hard and competed well all night,” Gardner said of the South Fork girls.
Hoopa 53, Ferndale 43
The Warriors opened up a big first-half lead and were able to hold on for their first win in league and third of the season.
With the win, the Hoopa girls move into second in the Little 4 standings, improving to 1-1 in conference play.
The Warriors outscored the Wildcats in each of the first two quarters to lead 28-15 at halftime.
No individual scoring stats were available.
Eureka 79, South Fork 63
Jaeden Thayer and Grant Barrera each a big night offensively to lead the Eureka Loggers to a second straight win at home to South Fork on Tuesday night.
The Loggers put up plenty of points early on, scoring 28 in the first quarter and opening up a 49-30 lead at halftime.
Thayer scored a team-high 22 points, while Barrera added 20, as Eureka improved to 12-7.
Miles Meynell also had a big night, finishing with 10 points in the win, while teammates Cahliel Garner added nine points and CJ Chaidez seven.
Alex Harding continued to impress for South Fork, scoring a game-high 23 points in the loss, while Cameron Messenger added 14 points and Riley Gallagher 11.
Oliver Tatton chipped in nine points, all off 3-pointers.