What’s next after another magical Niclai?

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Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Fortuna’s Gracie Betts

By Ray Hamill — It’s been a highly entertaining season on the local prep basketball courts, and that shouldn’t change too much in the coming weeks as we get set for the North Coast Section and NorCal playoffs.

On Friday night, the Eureka and Fortuna girls served up a memorable Dick Niclai championship showdown that capped one of the most competitive girls seasons here on the North Coast in recent times.

The Big 5 was particularly competitive, with all five teams posting impressive runs along the way.

Despite their loss on Friday night, the Huskies remain the highest ranked team on the North Coast and are 23-3 heading into the section playoffs.

The Fortuna girls have played outstanding defense all season and as long as they can quickly forget Friday they should be well equipped to make some noise in the Division-IV bracket.

The concern for them, as well as fellow Division-IV teams St. Bernard’s, Del Norte and McKinleyville, is the fact that this year’s bracket is loaded at the top.


Eureka’s Kellina Pratton

The top five teams, according to MaxPreps, are all ranked in the top 10 in the state, including Fortuna (No. 5 in the NCS and No 9 in the state).

The Eureka girls are also now poised to make some noise in the Division-III bracket, where they are hoping for a top-three seed.

Friday’s dramatic win — they rallied from seven points down in the final minute — will give them a boost ahead of their NCS campaign.

It was their third come-from-behind win in Niclai play this past week and because of that the Loggers won’t lack self belief no matter who they have to play.

The Mack girls will also carry some momentum into the postseason after an incredible run over the past few weeks.


St. Bernard’s Bode Joyner

For the boys, Del Norte and St. Bernard’s will be the big stories to keep tabs on as the NCS playoffs get under way.

Both teams feature outstanding senior classes and a group of players that are close friends on and off the basketball and football fields, where each has enjoyed tremendous success this school year.

And that’s a big reason each is playing cohesively as a team, and why each was undefeated in league play.

Expect both the Warriors and Crusaders to do well in the NCS, while Arcata should also be a force to be reckoned with.


St. Bernard’s Verissa Moon

The Del Norte boys have played just six home games all season, so hopefully the NCS will reward them with at least a couple of potential home contests.

It’s nothing less than the Warriors deserve, and the atmosphere at those games would be tremendous.

The NCS brackets will be announced on Sunday.

Log onto Humboldt Sports on Sunday afternoon for a full list of all the local teams included and who each will be playing.

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