By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
FORTUNA The Del Norte High boys varsity basketball team grabbed the win in its first Big 5 Conference game of the season, downing Fortuna 47-32 on the road Friday evening.
While a fairly low-scoring affair, the Warrior defense certainly helped matters.
A key was in containing Fortuna junior Skylar Rice, considered one of the best scorers in the Big 5.
Last month, at the the Rotary Warrior Classic in Crescent City, he scored 22 points against Del Norte. The Warriors won the game 57-48.
Friday night he did not score a single point.
"I thought we did well and made him take tough shots," Del Norte head coach Blaine Lopez said.
The win improved Del Norte to 11-2 overall and 1-0 in the Big 5. Fortuna dropped to 7-10.
Lopez said after a sluggish start he was pleased with the intensity of his team.
"I thought we did a good job hanging on and playing hard," he said.
He commended his bench for stepping in and making key contributions.
The game started off slowly, with neither team able to make their shots consistently.
The contest went back-and-fourth for several minutes when junior Cody Hoffman scored two to give Del Norte the 8-6 lead.
But Fortuna came right back down the court and Ryan Hudson found an open shot and drained a three-pointer to give Fortuna a 9-8 lead with around two minutes left in the quarter.
At the end of the first period, the Huskies held on to a 11-8 lead.
At the start of the second period, Del Norte could not seem to get into a groove and went several minutes without scoring. But Del Norte roared back to take a 16-11 lead with more than four minutes left in the half.
With the Warriors holding on to a 18-12 lead, the Huskies made another three-pointer to cut the lead to 18-15.
But Del Norte was able to frustrate the Huskies on offense and made shots when they needed to. At the half, Del Norte had a 24-16 lead.
At the start of the second half, the game was mainly a defensive affair. But Del Norte started to pick up the pace on offense.
This was capped off when Hoffman blocked a shot on the defensive end as Del Norte raced down the court and Cole Lesley scored to give the Warriors a 31-23 advantage with about two minutes left in the quarter.
At the start of the fourth, the Huskies cut the lead to 33-27, but Del Norte pulled away from that point on its way to the Big 5 road victory.
Hoffman lead the way for Del Norte with 15 points, while Cliff Van Hook finished with 11 points.
The Warriors welcomed back senior post players Saxon Schultz and Andrew Fallman, both of whom who had been out with injuries. Schultz scored seven points as did Lesley. Hudson led Husky scorers with 12 points.
While glad for the victory, Lopez said his team needs to get ready for its next Big 5 contest.
And with a competitive league like the Big 5, every game is tough, which will seem to be the case on Wednesday when the Warriors face Arcata at home at 7:30 p.m.
Friday night, Arcata defeated Eureka 58-56 in overtime.
"We've got to be ready to go on Wednesday," Lopez said
In the freshman game, the Warriors won 38-37. In the junior varsity game, the Warriors won 44-40.