Basketball

Huskies defense too much for Wildcats in Niclai showdown

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File photo – The Fortuna girls got the better of Ferndale in Thursday’s Dick Niclai semifinal.

The Huskies will get the opportunity to add the Dick Niclai championship to their Big 5 title in girls basketball, as a phenomenal season for them shows no signs of slowing down.

Neither does the Fortuna defense, which was instrumental once again on Thursday night, as the Huskies comfortably got the better of close rival Ferndale 53-33 in the Niclai semifinal.

The Huskies held the visiting Wildcats to just 12 first-half points and led by 19 at halftime.

“I thought the girls came out and played hard,” Fortuna head coach Scott Betts said.

The Huskies, who improved to 23-2 on the season, continue to play with a veteran composure, led by their quartet of senior standouts, Charlotte Carroll, McKenzie Emmons, Morgan Murray and Moncerrat Bernal, along with talented junior Gracie Betts.

Carroll, who is enjoying an MVP-type campaign at center, was particularly inspirational at both ends of the court once again, finishing with a game-high 15 points.

Emmons helped set the tone, as she often has this year, scoring eight points, all of them in the opening half.

The head coach went deep to his bench in the second half, and got quality minutes out of several players, most notably Lilly Shelton and Skylar Little.

Shelton scored 10 points eight of them in the fourth quarter, while Little chipped in eight.

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File photo

Sophomore Gabby Stephens also had a big first half to help set the tone for the home team, scoring all six of her points in the opening quarter.

“Everybody played really good,” said Scott Betts, whose team now advances to play Eureka in Friday night’s Dick Niclai championship game. “It was a good warm-up for what I’m sure will be a tough physical game tomorrow.”

The Niclai decider will take place at HSU’s Lumberjack Arena as part of a doubleheader with the boys championship, with the girls getting the action started at 6 p.m.

“It’s going to be a battle,” Scott Betts said. “At the same time, I think it’s going to be a fun contest.”

Fortuna won both of this season’s conference matchups with Eureka, by seven and nine points.

Kyla Albee scored a team-high nine points for Ferndale in Thursday’s game, as the Cats dropped to 10-14.

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File photo – McKenzie Emmons

Mady Beddow added six points, while Emily Chavez and Halee Nickols each scored five and Natalee Gurerro four.

“Ferndale played hard,” Scott Betts said. “I thought they played real well, but our defense just shut them down.

“They brought up a few girls from the JV and I was impressed with how they played. 

“Ferndale in the next few years are going to be good.”

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