By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
The Del Norte High boys basketball team opened Big 5 Conference play in style Thursday evening, defeating Fortuna 55-45 in front of a raucous home crowd.
The Warriors (10-6) came back from an 11-point first-quarter deficit and were able to dominate the fourth quarter for the win.
Head coach Blaine Lopez was pleased his entire team played a solid game and worked together to grab the win.
"That's a big win for the kids," he said. "They deserve it."
The game did not start so well for the Warriors, who were sluggish and tentative on both ends of the court.
The Huskies (9-7) took advantage of the tentative play, rattling Del Norte on defense and moving the ball on offense to put points on the board.
By the end of the first quarter, the Warriors were down 17-6.
In the second quarter, the Warriors settled down and tightened its patented defense on the Huskies, causing turnovers and traveling calls, as Del Norte slowly chipped away at the lead and got to 17-15 with about four minutes left in the half.
The Huskies only scored two points in the quarter as the Warriors took a 21-19 halftime lead.
Lopez commended his squad for not getting discouraged when it was down after the first quarter and settling down to play good basketball.
"We kept our composure and didn't panic," he said.
In the third quarter, Del Norte continued to harass Fortuna, not giving the Huskies any easy shots and being able to hit its open shots, including a few clutch 3-pointers by Cliff VanHook and Chad Freeman. As the quarter ended, Cody Hoffman went inside for the basket and scored to give the Warriors a 36-32 lead at the end of the third.
In the fourth quarter, Del Norte continued to play well offensively and play tough defense.
As an exclamation point, Bryce Lund was able to slam in a dunk while the crowd erupted ecstatically as the Warriors took a 44-34 lead and never looked back as the team cruised to the win.
Lopez said it was nice for him and his team to have a large, vocal home crowd, after playing its last five games on the road.
He added it was a vital win for the Warriors because it's always hard to win on the road in Big 5 play.
Lund led Del Norte scorers with 15 points.
In junior varsity action, Del Norte won 56-46 over Fortuna.
In junior varsity action, Del Norte defeated Fortuna 56-46.