By Ray Hamill — The Del Norte Warriors will play for a Dick Niclai Tournament championship in girls basketball for the first time in four years after defeating St. Bernard’s 55-49 in an exciting and well-played semifinal at College of the Redwoods on Thursday night.
The Warriors made some clutch baskets down the stretch to break a late 48-48 tie and get the better of the Crusaders for the first time in three matchups this season.
The victory not only sends the Del Norte girls on to Friday night’s championship game at Lumberjack Arena, but could also earn them a top-two seed for next week’s North Coast Section playoffs.
The Crusaders came into the game as the No. 2 ranked team in Division 4, according to Maxpreps, with the Warriors one spot behind them.
Thursday’s win, however, may be enough to see Del Norte leapfrog St. Bernard’s when the seedings are released on Sunday, although the Crusaders are 2-1 against the Warriors, which may be enough to see them hold on to that second spot.
Either way, for now the Warriors will turn their attention to Friday’s big game, as they look to win a third ever Niclai tournament after previous wins in 1998 and 2019.
Lili Nunez continued to play at an MVP level for the Crescent City girls, and finished with a game-high 27 points on Thursday.
The junior guard had three 3-pointers, including two in the final four minutes in what was a back-and-forth game.
“I want to tip my hat to coach (Justin) Clifton and his team and Lili Nunez,” St. Bernard’s head coach Matt Tomlin said. “What a game she played tonight and what a game they played.”
The Warriors trailed 46-45 with four minutes remaining, but outscored the Crusaders 10-3 down the stretch to seal the win.
“We did a lot of good things and I’m proud of my girls,” Tomlin said. “We just had some defensive breakdowns in the fourth quarter.”
Del Norte’s Brooklyn Carter also had a big late 3 to help keep the SB girls at bay and finished with 11 points, including three 3s.
Lily Wilson, Jacalyn Gorbet and Lauren Stutes each chipped in four points, as the Warriors improved to 19-7 on the season.
The ever-dangerous Madelyn Shanahan and Laila Florvilus each were instrumental for St. Bernard’s, finishing with 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Shanahan was 9 of 12 at the free throw line, including scoring on all four of her attempts in the fourth quarter.
Teammate Aliyah Vigil also had a good game and finished with eight points, seven of them in the opening quarter, while Mataya Sherman chipped in seven points, including two 3s.
With the loss, the Crusaders dropped to 20-5 but they still have plenty to play for in the NCS tournament and perhaps even in the NorCals.
“I’m proud of my team and what they achieved this season,” Tomlin said. “I really think we deserve a top-three seed.”
Friday’s Niclai championship game tips off at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast live on MIX 95.1 FM and KPOD 97.9 FM, as well as through DelNorteSports.com.
Categories: Basketball, Del Norte, St. Bernard's
Hats off to St. B’s and DNHS… curiously, nearly identical score as EHS/Ferndale…
Best guess is the Niclai championship will be competetive, that defense wins the game at the end, and the score will be a bit lower than expected, say the tally is 45-43… Hopefully a great game-by-game analyses will follow explaining the schemes, team tactics, formations for offense and defense, etc… the individual stats are not informative of the game… need the goods…like reading a book and experiencing the happenings…
Winner: anybody’s guess, but if DNHS were to prevail, this is the season they are assembled to do so it appears, but EHS is the top dog on the mountain until dethroned.