GIRLS BASKETBALL ROUNDUP — Mack girls win to keep Niclai hopes alive

File photo – The McKinleyville bench reacts during a game earlier this season.

The Panthers aren’t done quite yet.

On Thursday night, they secured a dramatic 56-55 win at Del Norte to keep their Dick Niclai hopes alive.

The win lifts the McKinleyville girls to 3-5 in the Big 5 and into a tie for third with the Fortuna Huskies, who dropped their league finale at home to Arcata, 54-39, on Thursday.

The Panthers and Huskies will meet in a tournament play-in game on Saturday, with home court to be decided by a coin toss.

The McKinleyville girls had to fight for their playoff lives at Del Norte, with Morgan Stubbs breaking a late tie after making a free throw with 1.3 seconds remaining in the game.

The Panthers had led by as many as 17 early in the fourth quarter, but saw the advantage slip away with a furious comeback by the home team, led by Lili Nunez.

The sensational sophomore scored a career-high 40 points in the loss as well as grabbing 10 boards, as the Warriors battle back in dramatic fashion to tie the game in the final minute.

Stubbs finished with 19 points in the win, while teammate Kathryn Tinney added 16 points and Kim Lewis chipped in 13.

Anyessa Bettega added eight points for the Warriors, including five in the fourth quarter.

With the win, which ended a five-game league losing streak, the Panthers are now 7-11 overall, while the Warriors drop to 7-15.

If the Mack girls win on Saturday, they will play at Arcata in the first round of the Niclai tournament on Monday.

St. Bernard’s 55, South Fork 43

The Crusaders secured second place in the Little 4 and a home game for the first round of the Dick Niclai tournament with a win over the Cubs on Thursday night.

Lele Tanuvasa capped a big week on the court with 14 points in limited minutes, as the St. Bernard’s girls overcame a slow start and took control of the game in the second and third quarters to lead by 20 heading into the fourth.

Madelyn Shanahan and Emma Wilson each also also continued to play a major role for the team.

Shanahan scored a game-high 16 points, while Wilson “played solid defense tonight,” according to head coach Augie Valdez.

Laila Florvilus chipped in seven points, as the Crusaders closed out league play 4-2 and improved to 11-5 overall.

Impressive freshman Shawnessy Conway-O’Neill had another strong game for the Cubs and finished with a team-high 13 points, while Summer Contreras added 10 points and Cadence Young eight.

The Cubs closed out the Little 4 with a record of 0-6 and are now 8-10 overall.

St. Bernard’s will host Hoopa on Monday in the first round of the Niclai, with the winner then advancing to play Eureka in the semifinals. 

Arcata 54, Fortuna 39

The Arcata Tigers secured a No. 2 seed for next week’s Dick Niclai tournament with a comfortable win over Fortuna, the team’s seventh victory in eight games.

Nora Talty led a balanced offensive performance with a game-high 11 points, as the Tigers close out league play 5-3 and improved to 14-8 overall.

Olivia Railsback added 10 points in the win, while teammate Alia Prentiss finished with nine points, Caroline Dieker eight and Lily Rust-Kelley seven.

With the loss, the Huskies close out league play with a record of 3-5 and in a tie with McKinleyville for third.

The two rivals will play on Saturday to see who advances to the Niclai tourney to play at Arcata on Monday.

It was senior night for the Huskies, who celebrated their seven seniors before tip off, including Teal Mostovoy, Ronnee Norwood, Isobel Crosswhite, Gabby Stephens, Brizia Contreras, Breanna Foster and Sophia Villalvazo.

Crosswhite scored a team-high 10 points, while Stephens chipped in seven points and Ashley Tully six.

Mostovoy and Norwood each finished with five points.

The Huskies are now 11-13 overall.

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