Eureka girls continue to roll in Mack tourney finale

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Eureka’s McKenna Beach eyes her options during Saturday’s game with McKinleyville, with head coach Mike Harvey and the Loggers bench looking on.

By Ray Hamill — It’s safe to say the Eureka Loggers will be the favorites when the Big 5 tips off in girls basketball next month.

On Saturday, the Eureka girls closed out a dominating three days at the McKinleyville tournament, rolling over the host team 56-29 to finish up 3-0 in tourney play.

Head coach Mike Harvey went with a bigger lineup for the showdown and it paid immediate dividends as the Loggers started fast and opened up a 19-4 lead after just one quarter.

“The defense was insanely good with the length out there,” Harvey said. “I was really happy with how that went. The girls played well.”

The impressive team depth was on display all three days at the tournament, as the Loggers won all three games by at least 27 points.

Ten of the 11 players on the roster scored in Saturday’s finale, after all 11 had scored in each of the first two games.

“We have confidence in their ability to do the right thing,” Harvey said of his players. “And we have confidence all the way down to the end of the bench.”

There were no all-tourney awards handed out, but if there had been there is little doubt senior McKenna Beach would have been named MVP after three dominating days.

Beach, who finished with 16 points against McKinleyville, also won the tournament 3-point contest.

The senior leader is enjoying a stellar start to the season, and Harvey says the hard work she continues to put in is now playing off big time.

“It shows what hard work and perseverance does for a talented basketball player,” the head coach said. “To go from good to special.”

Claire Maples also had a good game for Eureka, scoring all seven of her points late in the second quarter to reignite a Loggers offense that had quietened down considerably after the opening quarter.

“Claire Maples had a good weekend,” Harvey said. “She’s coming along nicely.”

Kira Morris also had seven points in Saturday’s win, including six in the opening quarter to help set the tone early, while teammate Amaya Watson added six points.

“I think (overall the tournament) was good,” said Harvey, whose team improved to 9-3. “I think there’s always things to work on.”

The Panthers, meanwhile, closed out the tourney 1-2 and are now 3-6 overall.

“Eureka’s a deep team and they’re talented, and when you play a team like that you’ve got to come ready to play,” McKinleyville head coach Jacob Cheek said.

Gabby Watson and Bella Turner each scored a team-high five points in Saturday’s loss.

And Cheek hopes his players will learn from the experience and continue to grow.

“The first couple of tournaments are always a learning process,” he said. “There’s some things we’re going to change and fix this week.”

McKinleyville’s Kalyssa Claros lines up a free throw on Saturday.

McKinleyville’s Kim Lewis

Despite the two losses at their own tournament, the coach also liked some of what he saw from his players.

“I like the grittiness we play with sometimes,” he said. “Sometimes you’ve got to play basketball with attitude, and I think that sometimes we play with attitude.”

Next up, on Wednesday, the Panthers play at Ukiah and the Loggers host Grants Pass at 4 p.m.

Eureka sophomore Isis Poteet, who just transferred to the school this year, will make her debut with the team against her old team.

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