By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
The Warrior boys basketball team was firing on all cylinders Thursday night, as the team dominated McKinleyville from the opening tip-off on its way to a 62-31 victory.
In front of an enthusiastic home crowd, Del Norte (12-6) improved to 3-0 in Big 5 Conference play to remain in first place in the standings. Eureka has a 2-1 conference record.
"I was really happy with our intensity," head coach Blaine Lopez said, adding he was pleased to see his entire team play hard, smart basketball for all four quarters.
The Warriors started the game by playing aggressive on both ends of the floor as Scott Redmond scored the first two baskets, including a three-point play to take a quick 5-0 lead.
McKinleyville responded and took an 8-7 lead.
It didn't last for long as the Warriors started to make a barrage of 3-pointers.
Chad Freeman made two 3-pointers and Bryce Lund and Cliff VanHook each made one three each as Del Norte had a comfortable 25-13 first-quarter lead.
The Warriors did not let up the assault on the Panthers in the second quarter.
When McKinleyville had the ball, the Panthers were swarmed by Del Norte defenders and could not seem to find any clear openings. Many times, the defensive pressure led to turnovers and steals as well as several offensive charging calls against the Panthers.
On offense, Del Norte continued to shoot he ball well, doing a nice job of finding the open shot.
By the end of the half the Warriors clearly had a handle on the game, taking a 39-19 lead at the half.
Lopez has said while he has been happy with his squad's defensive play the last several games, he expressed concerns that the shot selection could be better, as many open shots were not going in.
On Thursday, he was pleased with how his team shot.
"It makes you look really good when you make all your shots," he said. "I think we did a good job with our sets and getting the extra pass, looking for the open man."
In the third quarter it was more of the same for Del Norte as the team played well on both offense and defense.
On one play, for example, Lund was able to get the steal, drive down the court, score, get fouled and make the free throw.
By the end of the third, the score was 52-24.
The Warriors were so in control, with more than seven minutes left in the game, the student section was already shouting "it's all over."
In the fourth quarter, Lopez brought in his bench, which was able to hold onto the big lead as Del Norte cruised to the win.
Redmond led Warrior scorers with 16 points. Lund had 15 points and eight rebounds, while VanHook scored 10 points.