The McKinleyville Panthers and Del Norte Warriors both tipped off the Big 5 with a win on Tuesday night.
The Panthers broke open a tight game with a big second half at Fortuna on the way to a 44-34 win, while the Warriors held off a second-half rally by Eureka to win 55-43 in Crescent City.
Also in action on Tuesday night, the Tigers got the better of Ferndale by a score of 76-34 at Arcata High.
“A win is a win,” McKinleyville head coach Cindy Semore Clancy said. “I thought we were a little sloppy and we missed a lot of shots we should not miss.
“And I have to give credit to Fortuna. They were shorthanded but those kids played hard and they weren’t making it easy on our kids.”
McKinleyville’s Cody Whitmer scored a game-high 14 points in what was a low-scoring affair, while teammate Owen Hamm added 10 points and Jack Clancy six.
Just one point separated the two teams at the interval, but the visitors slowly began to take control with a 13-5 third quarter.
Russell Pascascio scored a team-high 13 points for the Huskies, while Jordin Bourne finished with six points and Will May five.
With the win, the Panthers improved to 1-0 in the Big 5 and 9-4 overall, while the Huskies, who were missing three key players because of injuries and COVID protocols, are now 0-1 and 7-9.
Warriors continue to roll
Up in Crescent City, meanwhile, the Warriors also were without three key players, including leading scorer Edwin Zepeda, but got huge performances from Nani Scott and Adriel Horton on the way to the win.
Both Scott and Horton scored career-highs in points with 20 and 19, respectively.
The Warriors jumped out to a big lead in the first half, but the Loggers refused to go down easily and battled back after the interval to make a game of it.
Wyatt Robson added 10 points in the win and came away with several key steals at pivotal moments, as Del Norte improved to 1-0 in the Big 5 and 10-3 overall.
Caden Vance continued to impress for Eureka, scoring a team-high 14 points, while teammate Hans Chalmers finished with 11 points and Jordan Urban and Evan Hodges seven each.
A shorthanded Del Norte team also lost Caleb Dodson to an ankle injury in the third quarter.
Eureka won both the JV and freshman games.
Tigers overcome slow start
At Arcata High, meanwhile, the high-flying Tigers continued to roll with a comfortable win over the Wildcats.
The Tigers, who improved to 13-2, started slowly but pulled away after a big start to the third quarter.
“We didn’t start off as well as I would have liked us to,” Arcata head coach Kellen Maynard said. “We were a little sluggish and I wasn’t really happy with our energy early.
“But give credit to Ferndale. Their defense in the first quarter, they were very active, and I was very impressed with them early.”
Brandon Bento-Jackson scored a game-high 24 points in the win, while teammate Sam Trewartha scored 15 and Alex Jioras 14.
“We had guys step up,” Maynard said. “Alex and Shane (Purcell) played really well tonight.”
Jack Westfall continued to impress for the Cats and scored a team-high 14 points, while teammate Kannon Christiansen also had a good night and chipped in eight points.
The Arcata JVs also won, getting the better of South Fork, while the Arcata freshmen team defeated the Ferndale JVs.
Next up, on Thursday night, Arcata plays at McKinleyville, Eureka plays at Fortuna, Ferndale plays South Fork and Del Norte travels to Brookings.