Lose 42-25 after leading by four after two quarters
Facing one of the best teams in the Big 5 Conference Thursday night, the Del Norte girls varsity basketball squad played inspired defense in its home opener against Arcata.
Junior Emma Card of the Del Norte High girls varsity basketball team goes to the basket as she makes a lay-up near the end of the first half. For more photos, go to triplicate.com/photos. Del Norte Triplicate/Rick Postal
While the offense struggled, the defense did enough to give the Warriors a surprising 17-13 halftime lead.
“Our defense was excellent,” head coach Buzz McCulloch said. “That was the best basketball we played all season. We were ready to play.”
The inability of the Warriors’ offense to score came back to haunt them in the second half as they could muster only eight points, including a single field goal, as they went on to lose 42-25.
After playing the first 14 games of the year on the road, it was obvious from the start of the game that the Warriors were glad to finally be at home.
Del Norte frustrated and flustered Arcata, which was constantly contested on offense and could not get any offensive flow going.
But the Tigers were able to totally shut down the Warrior offense. Del Norte was down 5-0 until a basket at the buzzer by junior Emma Card reduced the lead to 5-2 after one quarter of play.
In the second quarter Del Norte cut the lead to 10-9 with 3:45 left on a 3-pointer by Taylor Cleland.
With Arcata up 13-11 with 12 seconds left, a series of events took place that greatly benefited Del Norte.
First, the Arcata coaching staff was called for a technical foul and Cleland made both free throws to tie things up.
With the Warriors getting the ball back, Card quickly drove to the hoop after a nice pass and scored on a lay-up to give Del Norte the 15-13 advantage.
Junior Taylor Cleland of Del Norte High scores on a steal at the buzzer for the Warriors at the end of the first half against Arcata on Thursday. of the Del Norte High girls varsity basketball team goes to the basket as she makes a layoff near the end of the first half. For more photos, go to triplicate.com/photos. Del Norte Triplicate/Rick Postal J
When Arcata inbounded the ball, Cleland stole it and went in for the basket at the buzzer as the crowd went wild and Del Norte headed to the locker room with a 17-13 advantage.
The Warrior girls sported wide smiles as they left the court, savoring the lead.
“I was ecstatic,” McCulloch said. “I told them at the half that good defense can help generate points for the offense.”
He told his players they had to be more consistent in the second half on offense and keep turnovers down.
Unfortunately, that did not take place.
To start the third quarter, Card got fouled and went to the line. She made both free throws to give Del Norte a 19-13 advantage.
The Warriors struggled mightly on offense as the Tigers pressed them. This created several turnovers and shot opportunities that Arcata took full advantage of. With 5:09 left, Arcata had knotted things up at 19-19, and led 29-22 after three quarters.
“They started to pressure us and we turned the ball over way too much,” McCulloch said.
The struggles continued for the Warriors in the final quarter as they could only put three more points on the board. The Tigers ran away with a 17-point victory.
In the second half Del Norte turned the ball over 11 times and had 19 turnovers for the game.
Del Norte fell to 0-4 in the Big 5 and 3-12 overall. Arcata improved to 14-5 overall and 3-1 in the Big 5.
Card led Warrior scorers with 13 points and Cleland chipped in nine points. Sydney Benson finished with two points and Panhia Yang had one point.
Ashlynn Cox led Arcata scorers with 12 points, all scored in the second half.
While disappointed they could not sustain the momentum of the first half, McCulloch said his players should be proud of their effort and need to build on the positive play of the first half.
After all, he said, the 42 points allowed was the smallest amount given up in four Big 5 games this year. In the first three games, Del Norte allowed Fortuna to score 71 points, Eureka 65 and McKinleyville 55.
Del Norte next faces Ferndale at home Wednesday starting at 7:30 p.m. On Friday the Warriors will host McKinleyville.