Warriors earn win in conference play
The Del Norte Warriors boys varsity basketball team used an explosive fourth quarter to its advantage Tuesday night.
Del Norte scored 30 points in the fourth, including converting 16 points from the charity stripe, to earn a 63-52 Big 5 Conference road win against rival Eureka.
After struggling in the first half, including trailing 11-2 early, the Warriors played a more consistant brand of basketball in the second half.
Leading the way was senior Darian Simpson, who finished with a season-high 26 points, including draining five three-pointers. It was the most points a Del Norte player has scored this season. Sophomore Aaron Fitch also finished in double figures with 18 points, as did senior Collin Taylor with 10.
Del Norte had a number of players contribute, from getting timely steals and rebounds to making free throws.
“It was a total team effort,” Del Norte head coach Blaine Lopez said. “I felt we were much better overall in the second half.”
In the first quarter, nothing went right for Del Norte.
The Warriors’ shots consistently clanked off the rim. With around 1:35 remaining, they trailed 11-2.
The Warriors made a mini-comeback. With 23 seconds left junior Doug Ovick went to the basket, scored and was fouled. He made the free throw to reduce the lead to 13-7. Eureka scored near the end of the quarter and led 15-7 after one period of play.
“We came out flat and missed easy shots,” Lopez said. “(Eureka) did a good job getting after us.”
At the start of the second quarter, Simpson drove to the hoop, made the shot and was fouled. He made the free throw to reduce the Logger lead to 15-10. Eureka returned the favor by draining a three-pointer to gain an eight-point advantage with 6:38 left in the half at 18-10.
Simpson hit a three-pointer to knot things up at 18-18 with a few minutes left in the quarter. The Warriors trailed 21-18 at the half.
In the third quarter, the lead went back and forth. While the Warriors took the lead on a few occasions, the Loggers hung onto a 34-33 advantage at the end of the third quarter.
Simpson made another three-pointer at the start of the final quarter to give the Warriors the lead.
In the middle of the fourth quarter the Warriors started to break away from Eureka. A three-pointer by Ryland Hollins gave Del Norte a 45-39 advantage.
The rest of the way Del Norte kept the momentum going by shooting 16-for-24 from the line.
Hollins finished with four points while Ovick had three points and Colby Japp two points.
Del Norte improved to 2-4 in the Big 5 and 6-12 overall while the Loggers remained winlesss in the Big 5 and 5-17 overall. Del Norte snapped a five-game losing streak. The Warriors’ last win before Tuesday night came Jan. 11 against Eureka at home.
In the junior varsity game, Del Norte lost 45-34. In the freshman contest the Warriors continued to dominate, winning 49-32 to improve to 8-0 for the year.
Del Norte will next play on Tuesday, Feb. 7, at Fortuna. Fortuna defeated McKinleyville 66-60 Tuesday night to improve to 3-3 in the Big 5 and 15-9 overall. In the teams’ first meeting in Crescent City on Jan. 18, the Huskies won handily 54-39.
The Warriors will end the regular season at home next Thursday against Arcata.