By Ray Hamill — They may not know for sure when their season will actually tip off, but at least two local basketball players have been attracting attention well beyond the North Coast this offseason.
Del Norte senior Jadence Clifton and Fortuna senior Gracie Betts were each recently included on the Silver Waves Media list of top high school players in NorCal, the only two locals to receive the honor.
Clifton, co-MVP of the Big 5 last winter, is included at No. 83 on the list, while Betts received an honorable mention.
Silver Waves is a media organization that focuses on providing exposure for athletes on the West Coast in multiple sports, including listing the top prospects.
Clifton, a 5-foot-6 guard, has dominated the Big 5 over the past couple of seasons and is expected to close out her high school career with a bang.
Betts, meanwhile, played a pivotal role in the Huskies’ breakout season last winter, which saw them win a first league title in almost 40 years.
The 5-foot-5 guard was an all-league selection and is also expected to play a major role in her senior campaign next winter.
While games have been prohibited locally this summer, Clifton has been staying busy and making the short trip from Crescent City to Oregon, where games are allowed to go ahead despite the ongoing pandemic.
“She’s been playing pickup games in Oregon,” her father and Del Norte head coach Justin Clifton said. “She’s playing there five days a week. The girls and boys are playing up there, all outdoors.”
Clifton also has been busy priming her game this offseason at a couple of big camps, one in Napa and one in Montana.
Team training, however, has been limited for both the Warriors and Huskies, as it has been for all the Humboldt-Del Norte League teams.
As of right now, the local high school basketball season is scheduled to tip off in mid December — unlike the rest of the state, which will begin play in the spring — although it remains to be seen if the league will be given the all-clear by local health officials.
If the H-DNL begins play in December the local teams will not qualify for the NCS or state playoffs, something many of them, including the Warriors, focus their seasons on.
“A lot of the girls are bummed out,” Justin Clifton said. “But it is what it is. I don’t think they thought about the whole situation, but I respect the league vote.”