Hoopa girls push Arcata close in season opener

The Arcata Tigers won their season opener in girls basketball on Friday night, but they had to battle, rallying in the fourth quarter to pull out a 42-37 victory.

Head coach Doug Oliveira has three key returning players this season and a young roster that features four sophomores.

“We struggled, especially in the first half, and we were down a few kids with injuries, illnesses and things,” the head coach said. “Then we got a spark late third quarter/early fourth and we were able to regain the lead and hold onto it.”

Senior Grace Talty is back to anchor this year’s team in her fourth year at the varsity level and will be relied on for some much needed leadership along with juniors Olivia Railsback and Lily Rust-Kelley, each of whom are in their third year with the varsity team.

“They’re solid,” Oliveira said of the trio. “They’re good kids and good people to be around. They come to play hard, and you can’t ask for more than that.”

The Arcata coach put Friday’s performance down to a typical opening game.

“It was understandable,” he said. “And I was pleased we were able to pull it out. We’ll grow.”

Next up, the Arcata girls will play in their own tournament in two weeks.

Warriors welcome back a familiar coach

The Hoopa girls, meanwhile, also have three core returning players who are expected to anchor the team this year, and all three played well as the Warriors played the Big 5 school close.

Senior captains Savannah Colegrove and Taylor Cole and junior Tatianna Colegrove each got the new season off to a solid start.

Savannah Colegrove and Cole will give the team a big presence in the paint, while Tatianna Colegrove is expected to play a key role defensively.

“We played Arcata hard and had the lead for three quarters,” head coach Floyd “Cowboy” Billings said. “And then unfortunately one of our top rebounders fouled out.”

Billings, who returns to the coach the team after a two-year break, is familiar with his seniors, whom he coached previously in elementary school and at the high school level when they were freshmen.

And he’s hoping that familiarity will make for a smooth transition for both players and coach.

“I don’t have to teach them what I want to do, just refresh them,” he said. “I’m looking forward to this year. I’m glad I get to finish with the girls I started coaching with.”

Billings will keep a roster of 11 players, including impressive freshmen Ivy Lanebear and Harmony Nelson, each of whom made their high school basketball debut on Friday and showed they can be a part of the squad.

Hoopa plays at Eureka on Tuesday night and will play at the Arcata tournament in two weeks.

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