By Ray Hamill — The Arcata Tigers pulled away late in a tight back-and-forth game with St. Bernard’s on Wednesday night and opened the NCS Division-4 playoffs with a 65-52 win over their H-DNL rivals at Arcata High.
And they did it thanks to some pinpoint 3-point shooting and a strong defensive performance against SB standout Lele Tanuvasa.
For much of the night there was little to separate the two teams, who were playing for the third time this season, having split a pair of earlier matchups.
With Tanuvasa in dominating form, the Crusaders led by as many as seven in the opening half, but a late 3-pointer from Olivia Railsback and a two-point basket by Melania Luh cut the deficit to two at the interval.
The third quarter featured six lead changes, but the Tigers hit three big 3s late in the period and went on an 11-2 run to close out the quarter with a five-point advantage.
“The difference in the game is we came out and did a much better job with Lele in the second half,” Arcata head coach Doug Oliveira said. “And we took care of the ball.”
Nora Talty was outstanding for the home team once again and finished with a game-high 30 points, while Tanuvasa finished with 28 for the Crusaders and teammate Madelyn Shanahan added 16 points.
The Tigers hit seven 3s in the second half.
Railsback added 16 points for Arcata, while Grace Talty chipped in seven points, as the Tigers now advance to play at No. 1 seed Marin Catholic on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
The top seeds rolled over Cloverdale 55-15 on Wednesday, but the Tigers are looking forward to the challenge.
“It’s going to be a great experience for our young team, and I’m excited about it,” Oliveira said.