Panthers bounce back with a big performance against the Warriors

Photos by Ray Hamill/ –

By Ray Hamill — It was exactly the sort of response we expected.

On Saturday afternoon, the Panthers returned to winning ways with a 51-38 win over the Del Norte Warriors in boys basketball at McKinleyville High School.

Just two days after suffering a disappointing loss against Arcata, the Panthers made no mistake this time around as they secured second place in the Big 5 and earned at least the No. 2 seed for the Dick Niclai Tournament.

Mathematically, the Panthers can still tie Arcata for the league championship, but that would seem unlikely with the Tigers needing just one win in their final two games to secure the pennant outright.

Still, Saturday was a good response from the Mack boys after such a tough loss.

“I was stoked,” coach Tyler Pelascini said. “I thought the kids came out ready to play and they all wanted to play. It was good to see everybody make an impact during the game.”

No one more so than Cody Whitmer.

The sharpshooting senior scored a game-high 24 points as the home team opened up a 25-17 lead at halftime and never looked back.

“I’m super proud of Cody Whitmer,” Pelascini added. “I thought he stayed within himself the whole game and continued to shoot the ball extremely effectively.”

Payton Harbin also had an impact and finished with seven points, while Jack Clancy scored six and Flynn Creighton and JT Nicholls four each.

Bode Douglass also played well on defense, “on the ball and off the ball,” according to the coach.

The Panthers improved to 5-2 in the Big 5 and 19-5 overall.

Ethan Thomas scored a team-high 13 points for Del Norte, which dropped to 1-5 and 8-14.

Wyatt Robson added 10 points, Brody Mattz five and Lyon Rigden four.

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