By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
EUREKA A terrific comeback effort by the Del Norte High varsity boys basketball team came up short Thursday night.
The Warriors lost to rival Eureka on the road 55-53 in the final regular season game.
Del Norte fell to 16-5 overall and 6-2 in the Big 5 conference.
Fortunately, the conference title had already been sewn up.
Tuesday night, Del Norte defeated McKinleyville at home to earn the Big 5 title.
Down by nine to the Loggers the end of the third quarter, Del Norte came out determined to get back in the game in the fourth quarter.
Cliff Van Hook nailed a three-pointer near the end of the quarter to get the score down to three at 54-51.
With 13 seconds left, Van Hook got fouled shooting a three and went to the line. He made two-out-of three shots to cut the lead to one.
But Eureka was fouled and made one free throw to get the basket and hold on for the win.
The game started with great promise for the Warriors.
Del Norte came out smoking hot as they raced to a quick 10-0 lead
This include a three-pointer by both Van Hook and Taylor Duncan and two scores in the paint by Saxon Schultz.
But the Warriors then got iced cold from the floor and with 1:02 left in the quarter, Eureka led 16-12.
"We played hard, but all of a sudden we couldn't hit a shot," Warrior head coach Blaine Lopez said. "We shot poorly and they didn'tI give them credit."
In the second quarter, the game remained tight, but the Loggers held onto a 24-23 lead at the end of the first half of play.
In the third quarter, the Loggers got hot from the floor, including several three-pointers as they raced to the nine-point lead by the end of the quarter.
Van Hook led Warrior scorers with 21 points, including 5 three-pointers. Schultz had 12 points for Del Norte, while Duncan scored seven points.
Greg Allen led Logger scorers with 22 points. The Loggers improve to 17-9 overall and 5-3 in the Big 5.
The loggers shot well from the free throw line going 8-for 9 while the Warriors went a respectable 10-for-16 from the charity stripe.
Winning the conference crown means the Warriors get a first-round bye in the Dick Niclai tournament, which features the top three teams in both the Big 5 and Little 4 Conferences. Eureka and Arcata are the other two teams from the Big 5.
The Warriors will play on Wednesday at home at 7 p.m. against the winner of the game between the No. 2 versus No. 3 seeds from the Little 4, which has yet to be determined.
"We're glad we get to play at home," Lopez said.
If Del Norte wins they will play in the tournament championship next Friday night at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka.
Winning the Big 5 title also means Del Norte has earned an automatic berth in the North Coast Section playoffs.
In the freshman game, the Warriors won 47-36, while the junior varsity team won its game by the score of 62-49.