By Ray Hamill — The Ferndale Wildcats will play for a North Coast Section basketball championship on Saturday night after another strong showing in Wednesday’s semifinal round, but it was a disappointing night for both South Fork teams.
The Cats, who are the No. 1 seeds in the Division-6 bracket, got the better of the South Fork girls 57-48 at Ferndale High, posting their third win over their Little 4 rivals this season.
The South Fork boys, meanwhile, lost at home to Valley Christian 69-62, ending an impressive NCS playoff run for the No. 1 seeds.
The loss means No. 2 St. Bernard’s will now host Saturday’s D-6 championship game after the Crusaders advanced with a forfeit win over San Francisco Waldorf in their semifinal.
Ferndale’s Kyla Albee had a stellar night in her team’s win, scoring a game-high 27 points as the Wildcats took control of the game early with some pinpoint shooting from 3-point range.
They led 17-4 after the opening quarter and stretched the advantage to as many 19 at one stage, before the visitors began to find their feet late in the half.
The Cubs enjoyed some balanced scoring, with there players finishing in double figures, including Summer Contreras, who scored a team-high 16 points.
To their credit the Cubs have played the highly-ranked Wildcats a little better in each of their three games this season and they enjoyed the better of exchanges in the second half on Wednesday, outscoring the home team in both the third and fourth quarters.
After opening up such a big early lead, however, the Ferndale girls were able to hold on for the win and they will now host No. 2 Cornerstone Christian on Saturday night at 7 p.m., as they look to secure their first section championship since winning three straight from 2012 to 2014.
Emily Chavez added eight points for the Wildcats, while Gabby Rice finished with six points, Reaghan Langer and Haidyn Fulton had five points each, and Sierra Fulton had four.
Kaylee Cotter also had a good night for the Cubs and finished with 13 points, while Cadence Young chipped in 12 points and Shawnessy Conway-O’Neill and Natalie Roberts had three each.
Valley Christian 69, South Fork 62
The Cubs rallied from a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit to pull within one, but were just unable to get over the hump.
Tanner Curran was lights out for South Fork and scored a team-high 20 points, including five 3-pointers, as the Cubs put up 27 points in the final period.
Oliver Tatton and John Harding each also impressed and chipped in 12 points apiece, with Harding also making his presence felt with a big night on the boards.
“Valley Christian is well coached and they came to play,” South Fork head coach Taylor Morrow said.
Both South Fork teams will now turn their attention to the NorCal tournament, which tips of next week, with the brackets set to be announced on Sunday.
“I’m proud of my team and our season so far,” Morrow said. “We have more games to play and we are hungry to keep playing as long as possible.”