Warriors continue to grow, keep playoff hopes alive

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – The Hoopa Warriors

By Ray Hamill — The Hoopa Warriors have plenty to play for in boys basketball heading into the final week of the regular season.

A big win over Ferndale, 64-45, last week not only gives the Warriors some momentum heading into such a pivotal week, but it also keeps their postseason hopes alive and gives them a shot at qualifying for next week’s Dick Niclai Tournament.

The victory lifted the Warriors into a tie with the Wildcats for third place in the Little 4, with two games remaining each.

The top three teams in the L4 qualify for the H-DN tournament. 

And with a class of seven seniors leading the way, the Warriors appear determined to close out strong.

“We’ve definitely shown some improvement,” head coach Roman Hutt said. “I think the Eureka game (on Jan. 16) was the turning point. The final score was not indicative of the game. In the first half we were right there. I think after that game, they realized they can do this.”

On Thursday, the Warriors certainly played with a belief in themselves.

Impressive senior Brendan Baldy was instrumental in the 19-point victory and finished with a triple-double.

The standout center scored 22 points and added 21 rebounds and 10 assists.

“We all know he can score, but those two things (rebounds and assists) were really key differences,” Hutt said.

Baldy and his fellow seniors have helped set the tone for the team this winter and helped keep the young players focused and believing in the team despite their struggles in terms of wins and losses.

“They have brought some maturity to the team,” the head coach said of the seniors, who will be honored before Thursday’s home finale against South Fork. “We have quite a few young guys coming up, so that helps pass the torch. They’re helping with the transition and doing their best to put the program in a good position.”

The senior class also includes Darvin Davis IV, Lane Campbell, David Jackson, Kayd Whitecrane, Brian Gulley and Rodney Clarke.

Lane Campbell

The team also is playing with more consistency within games recently and the players are learning to play competitively for all four quarters.

And that’s a good sign as they chase a Niclai berth and a place in this year’s North Coast Section playoffs.

The Hoopa boys will travel to play St. Bernard’s on Tuesday, before hosting the Cubs on Thursday, and the two matchups against the Little 4 co-leaders will be challenging, although the Hoopa coach and players will be looking to win both games and make a push for the NCS playoffs.

“It really depends on how the last three games go,” said Hutt, whose team also plays at Del Norte on Saturday. “We’re hoping to win out and be able to play in (the NCS). We’re taking it one game at a time.”

One thing is for certain, the Warriors won’t shy away from the challenge and they will carry some momentum into the week after beating the Cats.

“We’re hoping to shake the table up a little bit,” Hutt said. “It would be nice. South Fork’s always tough and St. Bernard’s always tough.”

Tuesday’s game at St. Bernard’s tips off at 7:30 p.m.

Categories: Basketball, Hoopa Valley

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