By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
MORAGA A terrific season for the Del Norte High boys basketball team ended in the second round of the playoffs Friday night.
The Warriors, the No. 8 seed in the North Coast Section Division III playoffs, ran smack into No.1 seed Campolindo of Moraga, who ran away with a convincing 69-37 win.
"They were really good and we didn't play well," Del Norte head coach Blaine Lopez said. "The combination of the two made it what it was...There's only one team at the end of the year that's happy because there's only one champion."
Despite the season ending loss, the Warriors had a remarkable season, finishing with a sterling 19-6 record. The squad won the Big 5 Conference and the postseason Dick Niclai tourney. Del Norte was also the champs of a tournament played in the Orlando, Fla., area at the Walt Disney World Wide World of Sports complex in December.
Tuesday night, the Warriors defeated Encinal High of Alameda 54-46 at home for its first NCS playoff win since 2002.
"I'm really proud of these guys," Lopez said. "I wouldn't trade them for anything."
A bright spot for Del Norte was the performance of junior Cole Lesley off the bench. He brought some offensive spark to the team and led the Warriors with 16 points, including four three-pointers.
Senior Cliff Van Hook had seven points.
The Cougars improved to 20-7 overall.
After receiving a first-round bye, Campolindo came out on fire on their home court. They quickly showed that they are an up tempo team that can kill you from either outside or in the paint with numerous weapons at their disposal.
This is a team that scored 90 or more points five times this season. The Cougars leapt out to a quick 16-2 lead in the first. The Warriors, normally a very strong defensive team, had no answer for the size and speed of the Cougars.
Near the end of the first, Del Norte was able to slow things down a little bit and trailed 19-8 the end of the first.
In the start of the second, the Warriors showed signs of life thanks to Lesley, who drained two three-pointers to slice the lead to seven points at 21-14.
Then, the Warriors got cold when the Cougars got hot and made points from all over the floor. By the end of the half the Warriors were looking at a 40-18 deficit.
Lopez said a key problem for his team was too many turnovers and not making their shots.
"They didn't miss any shots and we let it get away from us in a hurry," Lopez said. "It was a bad night not to play well."
In the third quarter, Del Norte was able to slow down the Cougars.
Del Norte still could not seem to get enough points on the board. Campolindo scored 12 points in the quarter to Del Norte's nine as the Cougars took a large 52-27 lead into the fourth. In the final quarter it was more of the same as Campolindo was able to maintain its comfortable lead and end the Warriors' season.
All six Warrior seniors saw game action in their last game for Del Norte. They are Andrew Fallman, Chad Freeman, Evan O'Brien, Trevor Rook, Saxon Schultz and Van Hook.
A number of Del Norte fans made the more than six-hour drive to cheer the team on. The Warrior cheerleaders also made the trip to add to the Del Norte cheering section.
The Cougars were led by senior center Jack Trotter, who was a force on both ends of the court, blocking shots and rebounds and scoring points. He finished with 22 points. Senior Will Shields had 18 points for Campolindo and made several three-pointers. Campolindo was sterling from three-point range, making 13 three-pointers.
There are now no teams left in the playoffs from the Big 5.
Friday night, Eureka lost 68-64 to Las Lomas of Walnut Creek in the second round of the NCS Division II playoffs. On Wednesday, Arcata and McKinleyville both lost their NCS Division IV playoff games on the road.