By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
A successful season was rewarded with postseason honors for the Del Norte High boys basketball team.
Senior guard Cliff Van Hook was named co-MVP of the Big 5 Conference. He shared the award with Greg Allen of Eureka, who won the MVP award last season.
Junior guard Cole Lesley and senior post player Saxon Schultz were named to the first team and received White Stars, as did Van Hook.
Senior guard Chad Freeman and junior forward Cody Hoffman were named to the honorable mention team.
Del Norte won the Big 5 with a 6-2 mark, and at the Dick Niclai postseason tournament defeated Arcata in the championship contest for the third time this season.
In the first round of the North Coast Section playoffs, the Warriors downed Encinal High 54-46 at home on Feb. 19. It was the first NCS playoff win for the Warriors since 2002.
The team ended the season with a loss to Campolindo on the road on Feb. 22 to finish the year at 19-6.
"He had a good year," Warrior head coach Blaine Lopez said about Van Hook. "He's who we wanted to have the ball in crunch time and he wanted it ... We asked him to do a lot and he came up big in key situations."
Van Hook led the Warriors in scoring and came up huge for the team on several occasions.
On Jan. 16 against Arcata, Van Hook made six three-pointers and scored 24 points in the 51-47 win.
He was at it again when he hit two crucial free throws near the end of a game against Eureka on Jan. 23 to help the team win the contest 48-47.
Against Encinal, Van Hook led the team with 23 points, 14 of them in the first half. He also drained five three-pointers.
He was a threat on defense as well. Lopez said while overshadowed by his offense abilities, his defense was just as important to the team's success. Van Hook normally guarded the other team's best players, shutting them down on the majority of occasions.
While Lopez was pleased Van Hook was named co-MVP, he felt he should have shared the honor alone.
He said it was the first time in the period he has coached the Warriors that co-MVPs were not from the same team that won the Big 5 title.
Eureka finished tied for second with Arcata. Lopez added that while he believed Allen to be "a great player" he felt what Van Hook did for a team that won the Big 5 should have been factored into the decision.
Lesley, a junior, jumped onto the scene and became a major sparkplug off the bench.
Many times he tore it up, leading the team in scoring on several occasions and helping the Warriors to the win.
"He came a long ways," Lopez said. "He did a lot for us," adding Lesley was a key component off the bench and besides scoring, did an excellent job rebounding the ball and causing turnovers.
Schultz was an inside force for Del Norte and was tenacious on the boards.
"He was our muscle guy," Lopez said. "He definitely had a pretty good inside game. Being a senior he understood what we were trying to do and he really improved over last year."
Lopez commended his team for the year they had and said he was proud of his squad for playing together as one unit and understanding each role they played.
"They were just a great group of kids," he said.
Lopez also thanked the parents and fans for supporting the team the entire year and being out en force for all the games, even those on the road, displaying Warrior pride.