Early storylines and reasons for optimism for all nine H-DNL boys teams

Submitted photo – The South Fork Cubs in action last week.

By Ray Hamill — The new high school basketball season is just getting warmed up, but several H-DNL teams have already made a quite a statement in the early going and have hit the ground running.

Every team, of course, is still just a work in progress, and all 18 H-DNL varsity teams should continue to improve as the season progresses.

Through the opening few weeks, four teams remain unbeaten, while 11 have won at least half of their games.

Several will be in action again at various tournaments this week, as they continue to prepare for league play, which tips off in January.

Here then are the early storylines for all nine H-DNL boys varsity teams and a reason for optimism for all of them …

Arcata (7-0) — Tigers look like the team to beat

The Tigers look like they are the team to beat in the Big 5 this year with an impressive start that has seen them win their opening two tournaments.

Reason for optimism — Depth. Arcata head coach Kellen Maynard is not relying too heavily on any one player.

Del Norte (3-1) — Defense, defense, defense

The Warriors are off to a 3-1 start heading into a Wednesday night game against North Medford, and defense has been this group’s strength and identity so far.

Reason for optimism — The Warriors don’t appear to have skipped a beat adapting to a new head coach (Cris Rice) this season.

Eureka (2-7) — Loggers need more consistency

After winning their opening game of the season, the Loggers then lost seven straight before getting the better of Red Bluff at the Arcata tournament on Saturday.

They have had a tougher schedule than any other H-DNL team, but they’ll need to start showing some consistency if they want to be a force in the Big 5.

Reason for optimism — The Loggers have the talent and size to be competitive in the H-DNL.

Ferndale (3-4) — Cats playing tough basketball

The Wildcats have played tough so far this year and they appear well capable of posing problems for their Little 4 rivals in January.

The Ferndale players play hard-nosed, physical basketball.

Reason for optimism — The play of Jack Westfall.

Fortuna (4-4) — New Fortuna players coming together

The Huskies feature a lot of new players this season, with practically no varsity experience on the roster, so there will be a learning curve with this group more than most.

Reason for optimism — This team should see substantial improvement as the season progresses and the new players gel.

Hoopa — Tough early-season schedule

I’m not sure how the Warriors did this past weekend, but their schedule has been tougher than most of the Little 4 early on and they have been missing several players for a variety of reasons, so they should show plenty of improvement by the time league play rolls around.

Reason for optimism — We still haven’t seen them play with a full squad.

McKinleyville (3-3) — Panthers steadily improving

The Panthers have been playing decent defense but have yet to really click on offense and they need to display more patience when they have the ball, something they should start to do more as the season progresses.

They’ve also been battling some injury issues, which hasn’t helped the team development.

Reason for optimism — The play of Owen Hamm and Cody Whitmer, who have picked up the slack with a couple of key players sidelined or limited through injury.

South Fork (6-1) — Fast start for the Cubs

With a number of players playing well early and new head coach Taylor Morrow back guiding the team, the Cubs appear well capable of pushing for a Little 4 title this season.

Reason for optimism — A lot of different players have been stepping up for South Fork early.

St. Bernard’s (6-0) — Back-to-back tourney wins

The Crusaders have won both of their tournaments so far and while head coach Issac Gildea says they need more consistency and still have plenty of work to do, they have been about as impressive as any H-DNL team so far.

Reason for optimism — Team depth and the immediate impact of sophomore Seth Dyer.

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