The Ferndale Wildcats are closing in on their first Little 4 championship in eight years.
On Monday night, in front of an enthusiastic home crowd, the Cats battled back to secure a hard-fought 64-62 win over St. Bernard’s, giving them a league sweep over the six-time defending league champions.
The win lifts the Cats to 4-0 in the Little 4 and they can clinch the championship outright with a victory in either of their two remaining matchups — both against Hoopa — on Wednesday (home) and Friday (away).
The loss drops St. Bernard’s to 2-2 in the Little 4, while Hoopa’s 45-36 victory over South Fork on Monday lifts them to 2-1 in league play and still in contention for the pennant.
Ferndale’s victory was achieved in front a loud home gymnasium.
“Our fans were incredible tonight,” head coach Terra Albee said. “I can’t imagine a game like that, with so much at stake for both teams, to happen in a silent gym without spectators. I am so grateful the players got to have the support of the people they love to celebrate their success in that moment. It was priceless!”
The Wildcat trailed for most of the game, but battled back late to take the narrow win.
Reaghan Langer was outstanding in the win, scoring a team-high 23 points and grabbing seven rebounds, while Carly Carmesin and Haidyn Fulton each had 13 points.
Carmesin also finished with three blocks.
“It was a total team effort for us to keep us in the game,” Albee said. “St. Bernard’s came prepared to battle and it could have been anybody’s game tonight.’
Talented Crusaders junior Lele Tanuvasa “was unstoppable,” according to Albee, and finished with a game-high 39 points.
“We played a lot better than the last time,” St. Bernard’s head coach Augie Valdez said. “So we’re making improvements, and making improvements at the end of the year is what you need to do.”
Emily Chavez and Kyla Albee led a strong defensive team performance for Ferndale.
Kyla Albee had another big all-around night, finishing with seven points, nine rebounds and seven assists.
The consistent Madelyn Shanahan also continued to impress for the Crusaders, scoring 11 points and grabbing numerous boards.
The Crusaders will host Hoopa on Tuesday night and a win for the home team would guarantee the Cats at least a share of the L4 title.