Unbeaten Tigers make a statement against Big 5 rivals

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Arcata’s Brandon Bento-Jackson keeps a close eye on McKinleyville’s T-Ryan Stumpf during Wednesday’s game.

By Ray Hamill — Short season or not, the Arcata Tigers have left little doubt as to which is the best boys basketball team in the H-DNL this year.

On Wednesday night, they comfortably beat close rivals McKinleyville, 80-59, for their seventh straight win, and they remain unbeaten in league play.

With one final game scheduled against Fortuna (4-2) this weekend, the Tigers can close out a perfect season with a victory.

On Wednesday, they certainly looked like the best team in the H-DNL.

The win was achieved with a dominating performance that saw them start fast and never relent.

They led by 13 after the opening quarter and had stretched the advantage to 20 early in the second half, leaving the visiting Panthers scrambling to keep up.

The loss ended an impressive five-game winning streak for the McKinleyville boys, who came into the showdown unbeaten against Big 5 teams.

Arcata sophomore Brandon Bento-Jackson, one of last week’s Humboldt Sports Athlete of the Week, was in sensational form once again, scoring a co-game-high 26 points, including an impressive eight 3-pointers.

McKinleyville senior T-Ryan Stumpf, who is also enjoying a stellar season, matched Bento-Jackson with 26 points.

Bento-Jackson was far from the only standout for the home team, with Mason Railsback continuing his big season with 13 points.

Teammate Aidan Atkins chipped in 10 points, Marcus Bensen had nine and Alex Jioras added five.

For McKinleyville, which dropped to 5-2, the ever-dangerous Jack Clancy also had a big night with nine points, while Connor Alto added seven points and Jordan Brown five.

The relentless Tigers outscored the visitors in three of the four quarters.

McKinleyville closes out its season at South Fork this weekend.

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