By Ray Hamill — The South Fork Cubs will try to bounce back from Wednesday’s North Coast Section loss when they tip off the NorCal tournament this coming week.
The Cubs fell 52-43 at California School for the Deaf in the semifinal round of the Division-VI bracket, but will advance to the NorCals along with Little 4 rivals Ferndale and St. Bernard’s, with all three finding out their seeding and opening round opponents on Sunday.
The South Fork boys will likely have to travel, but they’re just glad to be still playing.
“It is a big deal,” South Fork head coach David Bushnell said. “(The players) are excited. They’re ready to keep playing basketball.”
It’s been a relatively successful season for the Cubs, who pushed St Bernard’s all the way to the final game in the Little 4, before advancing to the NCS semifinals.
And the head coach credits the chemistry his players have developed for their success.
“We’ve come together really well as a team,” Bushnell said. “To get second in league was nice. These guys have worked hard to get that.”
Junior Alex Harding has led the way on a deep roster, as he did on the football field, and has played a pivotal role for the Cubs at both ends of the court.
“He’s our bread and butter,” Bushnell said. “There’s no question about it, he’s our go-to guy.”
Junior captain Cameron Messenger also has been instrumental in the team’s success, leading the way on and off the court.
“He works hard on defense and he works hard on offense, and he gets the ball up the floor for us,” the head coach said.
The Cubs also added a key piece to the puzzle this week, one they hope will pay big dividends in the NorCals, with senior center Ian Burton returning to the lineup after a long layoff with a hand injury.
Burton played limited minutes on Wednesday, but the coach is hoping he will have a bigger impact next week.
Bushnell said his return off the bench at CSD helped immediately.
“We missed having the big kid inside,” Bushnell said. “It’s nice having some height in the middle of the floor. We’ll see if we can get him into basketball shape quickly.”