An undersized and young Del Norte High boys basketball team walked into Fortuna High School on Wednesday night and held court in one gritty half of basketball.
The Huskies responded with a third-quarter counterpunch that turned into a knockout blow.
Fortuna outscored the Warriors 13-3 in the third quarter to knock off Del Norte, 50-40. The Huskies are through the first half of Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League play with a 15-4 overall record and a 3-1 league record.
The Warriors dropped to 6-8 overall and 1-2 in HDN Big 5 play.
Del Norte began the game with consecutive baskets from sophomores Steven Maready — the Warriors’ leading scorer on the night, with 11 points — and Josh Gruden, but Fortuna responded in taking a 13-12 lead after the first quarter. A second Maready three-pointer with 5:26 remaining in the first half gave the Warriors a 23-18 lead. Del Norte held a one-point advantage entering halftime.
The Warriors’ offensive struggles, exorcised during a win over Eureka on Jan. 9, reared their heads again in the third quarter. Del Norte went 5:30 without a basket as Fortuna built what would prove to be the largest lead of the night.
Defense marked the start of the fourth quarter, as Warriors junior Dylan Pease’s three-pointer with 6:02 remaining in the game represented the first points scored by either team. Pease’s shot cut the Fortuna lead to 40-33, but Del Norte could not close the gap further.
The Del Norte High junior varsity team rebounded from a 54-42 loss at Eurka on Jan. 9 to defeat Fortuna, 57-54, on Wednesday night. The Warriors improved to 5-11 overall (1-2 HDN Big 5).
The Del Norte High freshman team avenged a loss to the Huskies in a preseason tournament with a 45-33 victory on Wednesday. The Warriors are 3-0 in HDN Big 5 play (7-1) after a 70-38 thrashing of Eureka on Jan. 9.
The Warriors return to the friendly confines of Thunen Gymnaisum to host Arcata on Friday. The freshmen will face the Tigers at 4:30 p.m., followed by the junior varsity game at 6 p.m. and the varsity game at 7:30 p.m.