By Ray Hamill — North Coast basketball fans won’t want to miss what is arguably the best night of the local basketball season, with two Dick Niclai championship games on tap at Lumberjack Arena on Friday night.
And local fans couldn’t have asked for two better matchups.
The Fortuna and Eureka girls get the action under way at 6 p.m., followed by the Del Norte and Arcata boys at 7:30 p.m., two showdowns featuring the top two teams from the Big 5.
“It’s going to be a battle,” Fortuna head coach Scott Betts said. “At the same time, I think it’s going to be a fun contest.”
The Eureka girls (19-9), who had to battle to win a pair of tough games this week just to reach the championship game, will be hoping third time is the charm after dropping a pair of games against the high-flying Huskies (23-2) this season.
Both games were close, with the defensive-minded Fortuna girls winning 52-45 at home and 50-41 at Eureka.
The fast-paced Loggers will be hoping to take advantage of the larger college court and may benefit from the experience of having played in the big game a year ago, when they lost to Del Norte.
But little seems to have phased a determined and composed Fortuna team so far this year, a team that has lost just once all season to North Coast opposition.
The boys decider is just as intriguing and perhaps even more so.
The Warriors (22-1) have not lost all year to North Coast opposition — their only defeat came against Grants Pass — and are riding an 18-game winning streak with a senior class for the ages.
They have gotten the better of Arcata (19-8) twice this season, although the last matchup went right down to the wire and was decided by just two points.
Expect Friday’s game to be just as competitive, with the Tigers eager to get some payback and the Warriors hoping to clinch a Big 5 and Niclai double.
All told, it should be an exciting night of action.