A busy night on the local basketball courts saw the St. Bernard’s boys clinch at least a share of the Little 4, while Del Norte and Arcata both won tough matchups to set up a Big 5 decider next Tuesday.
St. Bernard’s improved to 5-0 in conference play with a 54-40 win at Ferndale, moving three wins clear of South Fork (2-1), which must win its final three games to share the championship, including a game at St. Bernard’s next Thursday.
In Big 5 boys action, Arcata pulled away late to defeat the Loggers 61-52 at Eureka, while Del Norte got the better of Fortuna 52-41 in Crescent City.
In girls action, McKinleyville posted an impressive non-league win at Gateway, winning 57-24.
Del Norte 52, Fortuna 41
The Warriors overcame a low-scoring first half and avoided a scare at home to the Huskies to keep their title ambitions well on track.
The win lifts the Del Norte boys to 6-0 in the Big 5, with a huge matchup looming at Arcata on Tuesday, where a win will give them the championship outright.
Omar Banuelos had a big night for the Warriors (18-1 overall), who have not lost a game since an early December matchup against Grants Pass.
Banuelos finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds, including 12 points in the fourth quarter.
“He was good for us tonight at both ends of the court,” head coach Marc Slayton said of the senior standout. “And he rebounded the ball well.”
The Warriors managed just 14 first-half points and trailed by one at the interval, but gradually started to take control of the game after that.
Anthony Slayton added six points in the win and Kaleb Price four.
Defensively, the Warriors gave little away.
“We played hard. We came out with a lot of energy at both ends of the court,” Marc Slayton added. “And I thought we rebounded well.”
Fortuna was led by Jaden Kelley, who finished with 20 points.
The Huskies dropped to 2-5 in the Big 5 and 9-15 overall.
“I give Fortuna credit for coming out and playing as hard as they did,” the Del Norte head coach said.
The Huskies are tied with Eureka for third in the Big 5 and remain in contention for the final Dick Niclai spot.
They play their final league game at home to Arcata next Thursday, while Eureka’s final game is at home to McKinleyville on Tuesday.
The Del Norte JVs also continued to impress on Thursday, winning the earlier matchup 59-45.
St. Bernard’s 54, Ferndale 40
The Crusaders quickly got back to winning ways after Tuesday’s loss to Del Norte, getting the better of the Wildcats for the second time in league play.
Lane Thrap scored a game-high 20 points for St. Bernard’s, which is now 13-6 overall, while teammates Owen Shanahan, Hunter Davis and Remy Campbell each chipped in six points.
The Wildcats were led by Jenner Christiansen, who had 15 points, and did not go down easily despite trailing most of the night.
“Ferndale would not go away,” St. Bernard’s head coach Steve Thrap said. “Coach Albee adjusted to everything we adjusted, so it was a good chess match.
“Very proud of the boys for overcoming a tough team with a tough game plan.”
The Crusaders, who host Eureka in a big rivalry matchup on Saturday, can clinch the L4 title outright before they play South Fork, if the Cubs lose either of two games against Hoopa on Friday and Monday.
The Wildcats, who dropped to 1-4 in league play, close out the Little 4 at home to Hoopa next Thursday.
McKinleyville 57, Gateway 24
The Panthers posted an impressive road win against the 12th ranked Division-IV team in the NCS to tip-off a three-game trip to the Bay Area.
Hailee Henry led the Mack girls with 13 points, while Cameron Heenan continued her impressive week with 11 points and the ever-dangerous Rayn Tripp added 10.
After a number of slow starts this season, including against Arcata in a Big 5 loss the night before, the Panthers came storming out of the gates, overwhelming the Gateway girls at both ends of the court and outscoring them 18-0 in the first quarter.
After that there was no way back for the home team.
All nine players scored for the Panthers.
With the win, the Panthers improved to 7-14.
They will continue their road trip at Miramonte on Friday before playing at Ignacio Valley on Saturday.