By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
In a huge win that puts the Del Norte High boys basketball team one step closer to winning the Big 5 Conference title, the Warriors defeated Fortuna 59-45 on the road Wednesday evening.
The victory gives the Warriors (14-8) a 4-1 conference mark, trailing Eureka by a half-game.
Eureka, 5-1 in Big 5 play, defeated Arcata Wednesday night. The Loggers have played one more league game than the Warriors this year.
Head coach Blaine Lopez said the win was "one more step towards our goal," which is to win the Big 5 title.
"I thought it was a total team effort," he said. "Everyone who stepped on the court did their jobs and played well."
Early in the first quarter, a basket by Bryce Lund gave the Warriors their first lead of the game, 8-6.
On the next possession for Del Norte, Lund came up big again, as he scored from 3-point land as the Warriors grabbed a 11-6 lead. Off the bench, Taylor Duncan scored to give Del Norte a 13-6 lead with about a minute remaining. By the end of the quarter, the Warriors led 13-8. Lund scored seven of the Warriors 13 points.
In the second quarter, the Huskies struck quickly, cutting the lead to 13-12.
Taking the ball to the basket, Lund got the score as the Warriors lead 15-12.
With under five minutes left in the half, the Warriors held onto an eight-point advantage.
The Huskies got back in the contest, as Jeremyah Branson got the basket and the foul, completing the three-point play to slash the Warrior lead to 20-15.
Fortuna kept things close through the rest of the quarter as Del Norte took a 30-25 lead into the half.
At the start of the second half, Sean Brock was fouled right away and made one out of two free throws. After Brock missed the second shot, Lund quickly rebounded the ball and scored as the Warriors took a 33-25 lead.
Two scores by Branson cut the Warrior lead to 33-29.
The next few minutes, after the teams exchanged several buckets, Del Norte started to take control of the contest, getting turnovers and rebounds, tightening its defense and making shots. By the end of the quarter, the Warriors had their biggest lead of the game at 49-37.
In the fourth quarter, a pass from Sean Brock underneath to Scott Redmond, who made the two, increased the Del Norte lead to 53-37 with more than six minutes left.
A three by Chad Freeman increased the score to 56-41 with under three minutes left in the contest as the Warriors held on for the convincing win.
Freeman led Warrior scorers with 17 points. Lund also had a huge game, dropping in 15.
Lopez commended Freeman for his performance, his highest scoring output for the year.
"I thought he did a good job being patient and making shots," he said.
Branson led Husky scorers with 17.
On Friday, Del Norte has a crucial game at home against Arcata, which Lopez said he's looking forward to.
"I'm feeling good right now but we don't have much time to prepare," he said after the game. "We have a tough game Friday night."
The Del Norte freshman team won its game 55-50 in overtime. The junior varsity team fell to the Huskies 49-40.