By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
CRESCENT CITY Playing together as one cohesive unit, the Del Norte High boys basketball team handily took care of Hoop a Wednesday night.
The DN Warriors defeated the Hoopa Warriors 65-42 in the second round of the Dick Niclai Tournament. Del Norte won the Big 5 Conference, therefore receiving a first round bye.
Del Norte was able to contain, for the most part, the potentially explosive Hoopa squad and were able to consistently go down the court and scorebe it from three-point range or inside.
They were also sharp on defense, harassing Hoopa all night and being aggressive on the offensive and defensive boards, grabbing several key rebounds.
Leading the charge for Del Norte was the junior pair of Cole Lesley and Cody Hoffman.
Lesley was instrumental all game, making key steals and fearlessly going to the basket. He was a deadly sharp shooter from three-point range, scoring from long distance four times to finish with 18 points.
Hoffman was a force inside, with his teammates making several nifty passes to him inside the paint. Hoffman overwhelmed the Hoopa Warriors with his speed and size. He finished with 15 points.
Seniors Chad Freeman and Cliff Van Hook also had good games, finishing with 11 and 10 points respectively.
"You take that any night," head coach Blaine Lopez said about having four players score in double digits.
"I thought at times we looked really good," he said. "Now we have to get ready for Friday night."
On Friday, Del Norte will play at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka at 7 p.m. in the championship game of the postseason tournament, which features the top three teams from both the Big 5 and Little Four conferences.
They will face Big 5 rival Arcata, who downed St. Bernard's 68-49 on the road on Wednesday.
Del Norte started off the game running on all cinders in front of the DN Warrior faithful, compiling an impressive 15-5 first quarter lead.
Del Norte continued to have the hot hand from the floor in the second quarter, and was able to stifle Hoopa. At one point, the DN Warriors held a 25-10 lead. Hoopa made a mini run, and at the half Del Norte had a 28-17 lead.
In the third, Del Norte hit a rough patch when they got extremely cold from the floor and made several turnovers. Hoopa then got hot from the three-point line. With 1:25 left in the third, Del Norte was only up 35-30. But Del Norte began to heat up again from the field. With more than five minutes left in the fourth they had built a comfortable 15-point lead.
The rest of the way, Del Norte maintained its large lead, with the entire team seeing playing time. Eight DN Warriors scored in the game
While glad with the end results, Lopez expressed concern about inconsistencies from his team, especially in the third period, when the lead was cut to five.
In the postseason, rough patches can cost the game, he said.
By winning the Big 5, Del Norte earned an automatic berth in the North Coast Section playoffs, which begin next week.
For Hoopa, Roman Hutt had a very strong game, scoring 21 points, including 11 from the free throw line.
Del Norte improved to 17-5 overall, while Hoopa dropped to 13-9.