Breaking down the final week of H-DNL play and what’s on the line for each team

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – The Eureka girls are Big 5 champions, but all four of the other conference teams are still in contention for the Dick Niclai tournament.

By Ray Hamill — Get ready for a big week on the local high school basketball courts with 19 games scheduled and every one of them affecting the race for the championships or Dick Niclai berths.

It’s been a chaotic season in many ways, with COVID protocols taking their toll on every team, as well as every team’s schedule.

And that means we’re seeing a number of make-up games late in the season, including a Little 4 girls championship decider on Monday night.

Three of the four conference titles have yet to be decided, while 16 of the 18 varsity teams remain in the hunt for a Niclai berth.

So what’s at stake for each?

Here is a breakdown of each conference race and what each team needs to do.

Big 5 Boys

The three Niclai spots have been decided but the race for the championship will go down to the final night on Friday.

Arcata and Del Norte are both 5-1 and tied for the league lead and they will meet in a huge showdown in Crescent City on Wednesday night.

Whoever wins that game will be assured of at least sharing the title, and a second win for either of them on Friday — Arcata hosts Fortuna (1-6) and Del Norte travels to Mack — would secure the title outright.

McKinleyville is 4-2 and still in the mix to share the title, but must win at Eureka (1-6) on Wednesday and at home to Del Norte.

The Arcata Tigers are one of three teams still in contention for the Big 5 boys championship.

Big 5 Girls

Eureka has secured the championship, but we have an exciting race building for the second and third Niclai berths, with the other four teams all still in the mix.

On Tuesday night, Del Norte (2-4) plays at Arcata (3-3) and McKinleyville (2-4) plays at Eureka (6-1).

The league wraps up on Thursday when Mack plays at Del Norte and Arcata plays at Fortuna (3-4).

Little 4 Boys

Three teams remain in the hunt for the championship, although it is likely to be decided when league frontrunners St. Bernard’s (3-1) and South Fork (3-1) play in Miranda on Friday night.

South Fork, whose only league loss came against the Crusaders, must also navigate a difficult game at Hoopa (1-1) on Monday, while on Tuesday St. Bernard’s will host Hoopa, the team that knocked them off earlier in the campaign.

Hoopa also has an outside shot at winning the league crown with four games in five days, but will likely have to settle for a Niclai berth.

Ferndale (0-4) still has an outside shot at a Niclai spot, but will have to win two games against Hoopa — on Wednesday (home) and Friday (away) — to keep those hopes alive.

St. Bernard’s Emma Wilson

Little 4 Girls

The race for the championship will likely be decided on Monday when frontrunners Ferndale (3-0) host second-placed St. Bernard’s (2-1).

A win for the Wildcats will guarantee them at least a share of the title, which they could then claim outright with a win in either of their final two games — at home to Hoopa (1-1) on Wednesday and at Hoopa on Friday.

A win for the Crusaders, however, would likely see the two rivals share the title, although Hoopa also remains in contention with four games in five days.

Hoopa hosts South Fork on Monday and plays at St. Bernard’s on Tuesday, while St. Bernard’s also plays South Fork later in the week.

The South Fork girls (0-4) still have an outside shot at a Niclai spot, but must win their final two games against Hoopa and St. Bernard’s, while also getting some help.

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