In the second half of Tuesday night’s girls basketball contest at Del Norte High School, the Phoenix (Ore.) High varsity team implemented a press.
Del Norte’s Emma Card struggles for a rebound against Phoenix (Ore.) High. Card grabbed 11 in the game. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
The Pirates were aggressive against the Warriors, putting four and sometimes five players in the backcourt. Del Norte, more often than not, was able to break the press and advance the ball beyond half court.
“After that,” Warriors coach Mike Ernest said, “it was basically, we forgot how to play basketball.”
Phoenix opened up an eight-point lead with three minutes remaining in the game and held on to win, 49-46, dropping Del Norte to 2-2 overall.
Warriors seniors Brittany Maready (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Emma Card (12 points, 11 rebounds) each recorded double-doubles, and junior Kaitlyn Clemann grabbed 15 rebounds against the Pirates.
Their efforts were ultimately mitigated by 31 turnovers, which stifled the flow of the Del Norte offense.
“You can’t win any game doing that,” Ernest said. “The bottom line is, we would get good rebounds and throw it away. We didn’t score on the press. Passes were bad. They were late, or they were too high.”
The turnovers — Phoenix had 26 of its own — obscured the fact that both teams were evenly matched throughout.
Del Norte had a four-point lead in the second quarter, its largest of the half, before a pair of Pirates’ free throws with 4.5 seconds remaining tied the score at 18. Maready was subsequently fouled on a three-point attempt as time expired; she made one of the three free throws for a 19-18 advantage.
The Warriors built a 26-20 lead — their largest of the game — with seven points on three straight possessions in the third quarter, but failed to score over the last 4:30. Phoenix regained the lead at the end of the third and scored nine points in 1:04 in the fourth, a flurry that Del Norte struggled to replicate despite late three-pointers from Taylor Cleland and Panhia Yang.
“They never stopped playing,” Ernest said of his team. “They rebounded. They played hard. They never quit, battled back.
“We missed a lot of shots down low, or we would walk (with the ball). All those are correctable (mistakes).”
Jordan Babich scored 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds as the Warriors used relentless defensive pressure to defeat the Pirates.
“They were all over the ball,” coach Andrew Fitch said.
The game was tied at 7-7 with 1:53 remaining in the first quarter before a 13-minute stretch in which Phoenix failed to score a single field goal. The Pirates committed 36 turnovers as the Warriors forced ball handlers into mistakes.
Grace Bruschi had 11 points and six steals for Del Norte, and Kayla Costello also contributed six steals in the winning effort.
The Warriors improved their record to 2-1 overall, after falling to Arcata, 32-19, and beating Fortuna, 42-30, in a one-day tournament at Eureka High on Saturday.
Del Norte FR 44, Phoenix FR 9
In the freshman contest, the Warriors held the Pirates to two points through the first three quarters to win their first game of the season. Joely Tynes led Del Norte (1-0) with 11 points.
“We just worked on executing our offense and being more aggressive,” Warriors coach Kristie Gavin said. “I’m excited for the season.”