The Arcata boys kept the pressure on conference leaders Del Norte with a comprehensive win at McKinleyville on Tuesday night, getting the better of the Panthers 65-27.
The win lifts the Tigers to 4-1 in the Big 5 (15-7 overall), and leaves them just one game back of the Warriors (5-0).
The Del Norte boys had a bye from conference play on Tuesday, playing instead at St. Bernard’s in a matchup between the two hottest teams on the North Coast.
And it was the Warriors who prevailed, improving to 17-1 overall with a 57-45 win.
Also in action on Tuesday night, the Eureka boys won a pivotal showdown at Fortuna, 57-56, to move into a tie with the Huskies for third in the Big 5 and remain in the hunt for a place in the Dick Niclai tournament.
Arcata 65, McKinleyville 27
The Tigers comfortably took care of their biggest rivals at McKinleyville High, keeping their Big 5 challenge well on track.
Garrett Hall scored a game-high 16 points in the win, while Jack Taylor added 10 points and Aiden Atkins-Salazar nine.
The Tigers opened up a 10-point lead after the opening quarter but only led by seven at the interval, before taking control of the contest with a 21-0 third quarter.
Dylan Kile chipped in seven points in the win, while Jacob Stoker and Zane Clark each added five points.
For McKinleyville, which dropped to 1-5 in the Big 5 and 6-14 overall, Jack Clancy scored seven points.
Next up, the Tigers travel to Eureka on Thursday, while the Panthers have a bye in league play until next week.
Eureka 57, Fortuna 56
In what was another exciting showdown between these two teams, this time it was the Loggers who prevailed, with Trevor Bell hitting the game-winning 3-pointer in the final moments, before a late defensive stand.
Both the Loggers and Huskies are now 2-4 conference play with two games remaining each.
“It was definitely a fun game,” said Eureka head coach Robbie Thompson, whose players saw a 10-point lead disappear before they rallied in the final minute to pull out the win. “We obviously shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times, but I was happy that we were mentally strong at the end.”
Jaeden Thayer was instrumental in the win, scoring a game-high 22 points, while Bell also stepped up in what was a pivotal game for the Loggers, who are now 14-8 overall.
Cahliel Garner also had a big impact, and appears to be lifting his game at a crucial time of the season, including making a key block right at the end.
“I thought he had his best game for us,” Thompson said of Garner.
“We just kept fighting. It was a good overall win for us.”
Bell, Garner and CJ Chaidez each finished with eight points, while Branson Gans scored a team-high 18 points for the Huskies, who dropped a second straight heartbreaker.
The Fortuna boys, who also lost to McKinleyville on a buzzer-beater in their last game, are now 9-14 overall.
Jaden Kelley and Bo Cox each added 11 points for the Huskies, while Fernando Atilano had 10 points to round out a balanced offensive performance for the home team.
Next up, the Huskies play at Del Norte on Thursday, while Eureka hosts Arcata.
The JV game was even more exciting, with Damon Achane nailing a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give Eureka a dramatic 64-62 win.
Del Norte 57, St. Bernard’s 45
The Warriors continued to roll with their 13th straight win, while ending the Crusaders’ seven-game winning streak.
Kaleb Price, who has been one of his team’s most reliable defensive players for much of the season, scored a team-high 16 points, including three 3-pointers, for one of his best all-around performances of the season.
Judson Pincombe and Omar Banuelos each chipped in 11 points, while Anthony Slayton added 10.
Babuelos was also a “beast” on the boards, according to Del Norte head coach Marc Slayton.
“I thought we played really hard throughout, with a lot of effort,” the head coach said. “We came out a little slow and missed some good looks. I thought St. Bernard’s played with a lot of energy.”
The Warriors, however, continued to have some problems late in the game, something the head coach feels they need to do a better job of going forward.
St. Bernard’s, which fell to 12-6, was led by Lane Thrap, who finished with 16 points, while teammate Owen Shanahan added 15 points.
Shanahan, a freshman, has been asked to take on a more aggressive role offensively recently and appears to be responding, as he continues what has been a standout debut campaign at the high school level.
“I couldn’t be prouder of the boys,” St. Bernard’s head coach Steve Thrap said. “They showed fight all the way to the very end of the game, and they continue to impress me with the energy they bring to a game.”
Next up, the Warriors return to the Big 5 when they host Fortuna on Thursday night, while St. Bernard’s travels to Ferndale for a Little 4 showdown, also on Thursday.
In JV action on Tuesday, the Crusaders prevailed with a 50-41 overtime win.