NCS BASKETBALL — Big 5 boys go down fighting


File photo – Eureka’s Trevor Bell

The four remaining Big 5 teams in this years’ North Coast Section playoffs all lost on Saturday, although all four of them went down battling.

None more so than the Arcata Tigers, who fell in overtime at No. 2 Marin Catholic in the Division-IV bracket, losing 72-66.

Also at Marin Catholic, the Fortuna girls lost 44-30, while the Del Norte boys lost at University by a score of 65-58 in a game that was close until the final few seconds.

And rounding out a disappointing night for the Big 5, the Eureka boys lost 87-63 at No. 1 seed Piedmont, falling by a score 87-63.

Arcata 66, Marin Catholic 72, OT

The Tigers rallied from a 13-point deficit heading into the fourth quarter to force overtime.

No. 7 Arcata outscored the No. 2 seeds 22-9 in the final period and had an opportunity to win the game in the dying seconds, before being outscored 9-3 in overtime.

Mason Railsback and Brandon Bento-Jackson each scored a team-high 14 points to lead a balanced Arcata offense.

Bento-Jackson scored three 3-pointers, while Railsback had two.

Marcus Bensen also had a big night for the Tiges finishing with 13 points, while Niko Zambas and Garrett Hall each scored 10, including a pair of 3-pointers each.

The Tigers close out an impressive season with a record of 20-10.

Del Norte 58, University 65

The No. 5 seed Warriors pushed the No. 4 seeds all the way in a back-and-forth game with little separating the two teams throughout.

Senior Omas Banuelos had a huge night to close out his prep career, finishing with 27 points, as the Warriors lost for just the second time all season and for the first time since early December.

“We had our opportunities down the stretch. The kids battled to the end,” head coach Marc Slayton said. “I just thought as a group they played extremely hard.”
Kaleb Price added 14 points for the Warriors, who close out the season 23-2.

The home team took control of the game with a big third quarter in which they outscored Del Norte 23-14.

“They caught fire in the second half,” Slayton said of the Red Devils who had eight 3-pointers in the second half.

After winning both the league title and the Dick Niclai championship, it was a season the Warriors won’t forget easily.

“To win a league title and to win a Niclai title, they’re two things we’re very proud of,” the head coach said.

Eureka 53, Piedmont 87

The No. 1 seeds in the Division-IV bracket proved too strong for Eureka on Saturday night, bringing an end to the Loggers’ best season in over a decade.

The Eureka boys closed out the season 18-11, their most wins since 2007/08, while also winning a first playoff game in over a decade.

On Saturday they hung with a very good Piedmont team early, but the higher seeds began to pull away in the second quarter and after that there was no way back for the outmatched Loggers.

“We fought and we played with some pride,” head coach Robbie Thompson said. “But all in all they were the better team.”

The Loggers will say goodbye to seven influential seniors, a group that paved the way to turning around a struggling program’s fortunes.

“I’m so proud of the seniors,” Thompson said. “To see them fight to get to where we are right now, with 18 wins. They definitely changed the culture and set the tone for the younger guys. I’m just so proud of them.”

Several of the seniors had a big say in Saturday’s game, with Cahliel Garner scoring a team-high 16 points and Jaeden Thayer adding 14 points.

CJ Chaidez also had a big game with nine points, while Trevor Bell chipped in seven points.

Freshman Caden Vance also impressed in Saturday’s loss, giving his head coach some quality minutes off the bench.

Vance finished with six points.

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