The Arcata Tigers got back on track with a crucial league win on Thursday night, defeating Del Norte 54-41 at Arcata High.
After dropping their Big 5 opener at McKinleyville last week, the Tigers responded with a big performance against the Warriors in a showdown of two of this year’s league favorites.
“We needed it,” Arcata head coach Kellen Maynard said. “We still didn’t play well offensively, but you’ve got to give Del Norte credit for that.”
The Tigers trailed by a point after the opening quarter but began to slowly take control of the game in the second and third quarters, getting the better of exchanges on the boards and opening up a 13-point lead.
Foul trouble did not help matters for the visitors, who were shorthanded because of COVID protocols and injuries and were without their top two point guards.
The Warriors, however, narrowed the gap to as few as seven late in the third quarter on a timely Edwin Zepeda 3-pointer, but that was as close as they would get.
The Tigers were clutch at the free-throw line, nailing 14 of 16 attempts on the night, while Del Norte managed just 9 of 19 attempts.
Kai Purcell, who missed the loss at McKinleyville, made his presence felt with a big night and scored a game-high 16 points, while teammate Brandon Bento-Jackson added 15 points.
But while the Tigers struggled offensively, the team defense paved the way to victory.
“I thought our defense was phenomenal,” said Maynard, whose team was also shorthanded due to COVID. “As poorly as we played defensively, it was the exact opposite with our defense.”
Alex Jioras added eight points in the win and teammate Carson Tucker finished with five, as the Tigers improved to 1-1 in the Big 5 and 14-3 overall.
Adriel Horton, who is one of Humboldt Sports athletes of the week this week, continued his hot streak and finished with a team-high 11 points for Del Norte, which dropped to 2-1 in the Big 5 and 11-4 overall.
Zepeda chipped in 10 points despite being in early foul trouble, while Nani Scott finished with nine points and Konner Price seven.
Ethan Thomas also had a good night defensively for Del Norte.
“They create matchup problems,” Maynard said of the Warriors. “They definitely gave us some issues with some of their inside action. I thought they did a great job.”
Senior Cameron Klein had a big game off the bench for the Tigers, stepping up in the absence of some missing players.
“He was just ready to go and did everything I could ask for,” said Maynard, who added, “It was a team effort, no doubt about it. Our guys just gutted it out.”
St. Bernard’s 71, Ferndale 48
The St. Bernard’s boys also bounced back from an unlikely league opening loss a week ago with a comfortable win at Ferndale on Thursday.
The Crusaders welcomed back Drew Vizenor and Owen Shanahan, who both missed last week’s loss at Hoopa, and each played a big role in the win.
Vizenor finished with a game-high 28 points, while Shanahan scored 13 and made his presence felt throughout.
“Those two were great and everybody else did what they needed to do to make our team go,” St. Bernard’s head coach Issac Gildea said.
The Crusaders improved to 1-1 in the Little 4 and 12-3 overall, while the Wildcats dropped to 0-2 and 3-9.
Jack Westfall scored a team-high 20 points for Ferndale, while teammate Austin Michel finished with eight points.
Both teams were shorthanded because of COVID protocols, as is the case for just about every team in the H-DNL for just about every game right now.
Demetrius Rawson and Seth Dyer each chipped in eight points for SB, while Dominic Kofi added seven points.
St. Bernard’s exchange student Samuel Matysek, who enjoyed a good season playing soccer for the school, scored his first-ever basket in his first-ever season playing basketball.