ATHLETES AND TEAM OF THE WEEK — League champs take center stage

Photos by Ray Hamill/ – Laila Florvilus in action for St. Bernard’s on Friday night.

By Ray Hamill — This week we honor two players who helped lead their teams to a league championship, as well as a team that has established itself as a dominant force in the Little 4.

Our Athletes and Team of the Week, as always, are sponsored by College of the Redwoods Athletics.

On Friday night, Laila Florvilus was instrumental in leading the St. Bernard’s girls to a come-from-behind win at Ferndale in a championship showdown that decided this year’s Little 4 girls basketball title.

In just her sophomore season, Florvilus is already one of the best players in the entire H-DN and is enjoying a breakout campaign with the league champs.

She scored a game-high 23 points in a 46-35 win over the Wildcats and gave her team a huge spark late in the first half when they were trailing by 11.

Florvilus is a multi-sport talent who excels on the basketball court.

The rest of the H-DN better watch out, because she will only continue to thrive and get better over the next couple of years.

Equally impressive this past week has been the play of Arcata senior Brandon Bento-Jackson, who has lifted the level of his game down the stretch of the season on his way to leading a young Arcata Tigers team to a second straight Big 5 title in basketball.

This is the second time in three weeks the Arcata standout has been named one of our Athletes of the Week, and not too many people can deny him the accolade the way he has been playing lately.

Our Team of the Week, meanwhile, goes to the South Fork boys basketball team.

The Cubs ended a 29-year wait for a league title a year ago and followed that with a second straight championship this week.

And they had to do it the hard way.

After losing their league opener at St. Bernard’s a few weeks ago, the Cubs have since rattled off five straight league wins, including a 61-55 win over the Crusaders last week to keep them in contention hading into the final week of the regular season.

They clinched the championship with road wins at both Ferndale and Hoopa this week.


Laila Florvilus

St. Bernard’s Basketball, Sophomore

Florvilus is not only talented, she’s also one of the toughest athletes in the Little 4 right now, overcoming a hard fall in the third quarter of Friday’s championship showdown by returning to the court and leading the Crusaders to a league title.

She leads the league champions with 17.3 points a game, but that only tells half the story.

Florvilus, along with teammate Madelyn Shanahan, who was one of our Athletes of the Week earlier in the season, has been sensational all winter and has quickly established herself as one of the premier players in the area.

And the best is yet to come from the SB sophomore.

For more on Florvilus, see Crusaders prevail in exciting championship showdown at Ferndale …

Brandon Bento-Jackson

Arcata Basketball, Senior

In head coach Kellen Maynard’s own words, Bento-Jackson is “playing out of his mind right now” and at an MVP level.

One of just two seniors on this year’s Arcata team, Bento-Jackson scored 30 points in a pivotal win at McKinleyville and followed that with a 28-point performance at Eureka to lead the Tigers to a second straight league title and undefeated Big 5 campaign.

No one in the Big 5 has had a bigger impact with his team this season.

For more on Bento-Jackson, see Arcata boys ‘ride the wave’ on the way to league title …


South Fork Boys Basketball

Under the guidance of head coach Taylor Morrow, the Cubs are quietly building a dynasty of sorts.

Morrow is one of the most respected young coaches in the area and has led the Cubs to two straight outright league titles.

The team certainly has some talent, but Morrow is clearly getting the best out of his players and has them playing with a belief and confidence that is maximizing that talent.

Like I said earlier in the season, don’t sleep on these Cubs.

John Harding, Tommy Rotbergs, Shevy Bero-Vanmeter, Ruben Lopez, Jesus Duron, Jonah Wansick, Broc Conteras, Wesley Way, Justin Freitas, Jasper Wilke, Trey Willner, Brock Fowler and Camren Washington have all played their part in retaining the league title this year.

For more on their big week, see Cubs retain league title, as Cats win at SB …

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