Basketball

Fortuna girls crowned Big 5 champions

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File photo – The Fortuna girls are Big 5 champions.

The Fortuna girls had to battle for this one, but that’s what they’ve been doing all season long.

No North Coast team has displayed the same composure in the fourth quarter of games as the Huskies, who rallied late on Friday night to pull out a championship-clinching 37-33 win over Del Norte in girls basketball at Fortuna.

The victory, coupled with Arcata’s overtime loss to Eureka, secures the Big 5 title outright, the program’s first in over a decade.

“I’m so happy for the girls,” first-year head coach Scott Betts said afterwards. “They have just worked so hard. It made it easy for me this year.”

The league championship gives the program an impressive treble of titles, with both the JV and freshmen teams also winning on Friday night and each improving to 7-0.

“It’s great for the program,” Betts said. “The whole program is working hard.”

The varsity girls certainly had to work hard for Friday’s win, overcoming a late five-point deficit in the final minutes.

Just after standout center Charlotte Carroll had fouled out, Morgan Murray nailed a big 3-pointer and teammate Gracie Betts quickly followed that with a plus-one to give the home team the late momentum.

After that, a composed Huskies team was able to hold on for the win, with Carroll contributing as much as she could from the bench.

“The girls really hung in there,” Scott Betts said. “And Charlotte was their biggest fan on the bench.”

Gracie Betts had a big night, finishing with a team-high 16 points, while Carroll had 12 points before fouling out.

But it was team defense once again that set the tone.

“Kind of as it’s been all year,” said Scott Betts, whose team held the Warriors to just 14 first-half points. “And like we told the girls at halftime, if we continue to play defense like that, we’ll have a chance to win at the end.”

With the win, the Huskies are now 6-1 in the Big 5 and 20-2 overall.

Jadence Clifton had a big night for Del Norte, finishing with 16 points, 11 of them in the third quarter, while teammate Kirsten Brous had seven points.

The Warriors are now 2-4 in the Big 5 and will need help to qualify for the Dick Niclai tournament, which they won a year ago.

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