BIG 5 ROUNDUP — Panthers top the Warriors in key Big 5 showdown

File photo – The McKinleyville Panthers

The McKinleyville Panthers pulled away late in Thursday’s home game against the Del Norte Warriors and held on for a 63-52 win.

Three late 3-pointers, including two from Gabby Watson, broke open a tight game and helped secure a key win for the Panthers, who move into a tie with the Warriors for second place in the Big 5.

It was a the second closely-contested game between these evenly matched teams and don’t be surprised to see them match once again in the Dick Niclai tournament.

Kim Lewis scored a team-high 15 points for McKinleyville, which snapped a two-game losing skid and improved to 3-2 in the Big 5 and 14-6 overall.

Tatum Fisher added 13 points in the win, while Camryn Pinard finished with 12 points and Watson seven.

Lili Nunez was outstanding once again for the visitors and scored a game-high 24 points, as the Warriors dropped to 3-2 in league and 14-5 overall.

Gianna Taylor added eight points, Brooklyn Carter had seven points and Lauren Stutes six.

In other Big 5 action on Thursday, the Arcata Tigers rallied in the second half to edge the Huskies in an entertaining showdown in Fortuna.

The Tigers outscored the home team 12-5 in the fourth to pull out a 51-44 win.

Leitala Vainuku and Melanie Luh each scored a team-high 10 points for Arcata, which ended a four-game losing skid and improved to 2-3 in the Big 5 and 10-9 overall.

Alia Prentiss and Addison Wingate each scored nine points in what was a balanced offensive performance by the Tigers, while Caroline Dieker and Nora Talty each added five points.

Sophomore Mariah Bravo led a spirited performance by the home team and finished with a game-high 11 points, while teammates Allie Cox and Ashley Tully each added eight points, with the latter also pulling down nine rebounds.

Ten of the 11 Fortuna played scored in a very balanced team performance.

“We played one of our better games of the season,” Fortuna head coach Tom Chapman said. “The girls really battled from start to finish and we had the opportunity to win the game tonight.”

Some late takeaways by the Tigers helped the late rally.

“Fortuna played their hearts out,” Arcata head coach Doug Oliveira said. “We made the plays we had to down the stretch and were lucky to pull it out.”

The Fortuna defense did a good job limiting Talty to just five points.

“She’s a phenomenal basketball player and I’m really proud of our team to hold her to five points,” Chapman said.

The win was the third for the Tigers over the Huskies this season, including their second in league play.

“Tom had his kids primed for the upset and we were fortunate to not fall victim of the reality that it’s hard to beat anyone three times, especially in this league,” Oliveira said.

With the loss, the Huskies dropped to 0-5 in the Big 5 and 7-14 overall.

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