The Tigers edged out McKinleyville 54-50 at Arcata on Wednesday night to remain in contention for a league title in girls basketball.
With the win, the Arcata girls improved to 3-2 in conference play and can still win at least a share of the championship with three wins in their final three games.
Elsewhere on Wednesday, the Fortuna girls won a huge game at Eureka, 50-41, to go to 5-1 in conference, while St. Bernard’s won a non-league game at Del Norte by a score of 65-54.
In boys action, McKinleyville got the better of South Fork 62-59.
Arcata 54, McKinleyville 50
The Tigers got the better of their rivals for the third time in three games this season, while the Panthers dropped yet another close game after yet another slow start.
Grace Talty scored a team-high 13 points to pace a balanced Arcata offense, with Olivia Railsback and Jocelyn Bliven each adding nine points.
The Tigers led by nine after the opening quarter, but the visitors battled back and the two teams were tied at 48-48 late in the game.
“Every game so far we’re slow out of the gates,” McKinleyville head coach Tony McClure said. “And again, defensively we seem to turn it on as the game goes on.”
Cameron Heenan had a big night for the Panthers, finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds, while teammate Rayn Tripp added 11 points.
With the loss, the Panthers dropped to 1-5 in the Big 5 and 6-14 overall, and now face an uphill task to make either the Dick Niclai tournament or the North Coast Section playoffs.
With a bye from league play this weekend, they will travel to play games at Gateway, Miramonte and Ignacio Valley over the next three days.
Tatum Carlin and Zoie Andre each scored six points for Arcata in Wednesday’s win, while Bella Volz-Broughton chipped in five.
The Tigers will host Eureka on Friday night in another key Big 5 showdown.
The Arcata girls also won Wednesday’s JV game by a score of 45-41.
St. Bernard’s 65, Del Norte 54
The Crusaders posted an impressive non-conference win at Del Norte on Wednesday night, giving them a second victory over a Big 5 school in the past five days.
Freshman standout Saulele Tanuvasa had a huge night for the St. Bernard’s girls, scoring a game-high 32 points.
The Crusaders, who improved to 17-5 overall, outscored the home team 15-7 in the opening quarter to take control early.
Del Norte’s Jadence Clifton scored 26 points, including 23 in the second half, to go with 10 rebounds and four steals, while teammate Selene Ledezma added six points and 13 rebounds.
Lily Wilson also scored eight and Kirsten Brous six for Del Norte, which dropped to 11-9.
Mackenzie Finck continued to play an influential role for SB, finishing with nine points, while Josie Peterson scored six and Shelby Jordan and Fa’apisa Fonoti five each.
Next up on Friday, St. Bernard’s hosts Ferndale and Del Norte travels to Fortuna.
McKinleyville 62, South Fork 59
The Panthers won for the second time in three games, defeating South Fork 62-59 in a close non-conference showdown at McKinleyville High.
Michael Boatright scored a game-high 23 points in the win, as the young Panthers exploded out of the gate with 26 first-quarter points to lead by 12 early.
Max Combs added 13 points for the home team, which was outscored in each of the following three quarters but held on for the win, improving to 7-14.
Jack Clancy, one of this week’s Humboldt Sports athletes of the week, added 10 points for the fast improving Panthers, while Will Hamm finished with six points.
Despite the early Mack onslaught, the Cubs trailed by just four points heading into the fourth to make a game of it.
Alex Harding continued his outstanding season for the visitors, finishing with 19 points while Riley Gallagher added 18 points, including 15 in the second half, and Oliver Tatton 11.
South Fork, which dropped to 11-8 overall, will play a key Little 4 game at home to Hoopa on Friday night, while the Panthers will play at Eureka on Tuesday.