By Ray Hamill — The Arcata Tigers got an early-season wake-up call on the opening day of the McKinleyville tournament and they’ve been on a roll ever since.
On Saturday, they took care of business in the championship game, comfortably beating San Lorenzo 65-41 to cap an impressive three days that saw them win all three of their games.
Brandon Bento-Jackson was named tourney MVP after another big performance in the final, while teammates Kai Purcell and Josiah Gomez were each named to the all-tournament team.
All three played a big role all weekend, and not just in the way they played.
In their opening game on Thursday against Eagle Point, the Tigers saw a 20-point second-half lead disappear before they re-took the momentum late to seal the win.
According to head coach Kellen Maynard, that served as a big wake-up call for the players and that the leadership Bento-Jackson and Purcell have shown since then has stood out as much as anything.
“At the end of the day, just the leadership of Brandon and Kai is what impressed me,” the coach said. “They were pushing the other guys and putting them in the spots they needed to be.”
Now in his junior year, Bento-Jackson is a third-year starter on the team and scored 16 points in the championship game.
Purcell is also in his third year with the team and also scored 16 in Saturday’s win.
Sam Trewartha added nine points in the win and Shane Purcell eight, as the Tigers outscored San Lorenzo in each of the four quarters and led by 12 at halftime.
Next up, the 4-0 Tigers will host their own tournament beginning on Thursday.
The eight-team tourney will also feature Eureka, McKinleyville and Fortuna.