Panthers win big at South Fork, get set for championship showdown

File photo – Owen Hamm scored 17 points for the Panthers on Thursday night.

The McKinleyville Panthers are finding some offense at a very opportune time.

On Thursday night, the Mack boys put up their highest points total since their season opener, getting the better of South Fork 82-50 in Miranda in their Dick Niclai tournament semifinal.

The win sets up a championship showdown at Arcata on Friday night, as these two great rivals get set to write the latest chapter in their storied history.

“It is a great rivalry and it’s going to be a tough game for us,” said McKinleyville head coach Cindy Semore Clancy, whose team split two games with the Tigers this season. “I just hope we remember to be physical and anticipate a little better what they’re doing on offense.”

Friday’s game is set for 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live on MIX 95.1 FM.

The Arcata Tigers also won their semifinal on Thursday night, defeating St. Bernard’s 75-60.

McKinleyville’s Cody Whitmer had a huge night in Thursday’s win, scoring a game-high 27 points, while teammates Jack Clancy and Owen Hamm each added 17 points.

The Panthers also enjoyed a productive night from their bench, especially Cody Rheinschmidt, who chipped in five points.

“I want to give a shoutout to our bench,” the head coach said. “My bench players they all came in and gave us some great minutes.”

Defensively, the Panthers stepped up in the second half to help seal the win.

“We gave up a few more points than I would have liked in the first half,” Semore Clancy said. “But we went to zone defense after halftime and it kind of shut them down a little bit and we were able to keep our offense going.”

Charlie Campbell also had a good game off the bench, grabbing some key boards and steals.

“Charlie Campbell played some really good perimeter and interior defense tonight,” the head coach said.

Oliver Tatton scored a team-high 16 points for South Fork, while Ryder York finished with 10 points, Tommy Rotbergs had nine points and Tanner Curran eight.

The Panthers will be hoping to end a long Niclai drought on Friday, having not won the H-DNL postseason tournament since back-to-back championships in 1996 and 1997.

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