BEHIND THE NUMBERS — The H-DNL in NCS basketball

Ray Hamill/ – St. Bernard’s Peyton Smith.

By Ray Hamill — There’s more than just a couple of North Coast Section championships on the line locally on Saturday night. There’s also plenty of school and league pride.

Two Division-6 championship games will be held in Humboldt County, with the St. Bernard’s boys hosting Valley Christian and the Ferndale girls hosting Cornerstone Christian.

Both games are set for 7 p.m.

The SB boys will be playing for their first section title since 2015, and a victory will give them a fifth NCS championship all-time, which would break a three-way tie with Hoopa and Ferndale for most boys championships ever.

All three of those schools have taken home a boys section championship on four occasions, with St. Bernard’s winning in 1975, 1977, 2009 and 2015, Hoopa winning in 1992, 1997, 1999 and 2003, and Ferndale winning in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2020.

The Ferndale girls, meanwhile, will be looking for the program’s fourth-ever title, after previously winning three straight from 2012 to 2014.

A victory for either the Wildcats or Crusaders would also continue a very successful recent run for the H-DNL, which has claimed NCS championships in 11 of the past 12 seasons, with 2018 the only barren season dating all the way back to 2008. (There were no championships played in 2021.)

St. Bernard’s is the most successful of all H-DNL schools when it comes to NCS basketball, with nine combined pennants.

Five of those have come since 2015, when they won an NCS boys and girls double, which was one of only two ever in H-DNL history, along with Ferndale in 2012.

Only three H-DNL schools — St. Bernard’s, Ferndale and South Fork — have won both a boys and girls NCS championship in the sport.

If Ferndale and St. Bernard’s both win on Saturday night, it will mark just the fifth time two H-DNL teams won a section title in the same year.

In addition to the Ferndale double of 2012 and the SB double of 2015, the Eureka and McKinleyville girls both won in 1989 and the Arcata and Hoopa boys both won in 1997.

Interestingly, the H-DNL girls won seven titles in just eight years between 2012 and 2019, after winning just one in the previous 22 years.

Overall, the H-DNL has won a total of 31 NCS basketball championships, almost evenly distributed between girls (16) and boys (15).

St. Bernard’s is the most successful local girls program with five titles, including four since 2015, while McKinleyville is next best with four, all of them coming in the 1980s.

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