By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
MCKINLEYVILLE The Del Norte High boys varsity basketball team suffered a 63-58 double overtime upset loss to McKinleyville on the road Friday night.
After a three-pointer at the buzzer by the Warrior's Cliff Van Hook tied the game at the end of the first overtime, the team went cold at the wrong time.
They scored zero points in the second overtime as the Panthers were able to drain crucial free throws near the end of the period to gain the win.
The loss drops the Warriors to 2-1 in the Big 5 Conference and 12-3 overall. The Panthers, who were winless in the Big 5 improve to 1-2 and are 11-8 overall
"We played terrible," Del Norte head coach Blaine Lopez said. "We had a very poor energy level. We didn't come out to play and they did...We're not good enough to walk through things."
Del Norte struggled from the floor all night and gave the Panthers too many easy baskets, which is unlike the Warriors, who normally play tough defense.
Free throw shooting also came back to haunt Del Norte, who shot poorly from the line for the third straight game. The Warriors went 10-for-27 from the charity stripe.
"I told them it (poor free throw shooting) was going to catch up with us and it did," Lopez said.
Del Norte came out flat from the opening tip-off, as the Panthers raced to a 18-15 first quarter lead.
At the start of the second quarter things began to look up when junior Cole Lesley drained a three-pointer to give the Warriors their first lead of the game at 20-18.
The contest went back and fourth until the end of the half when Van Hook made a three-pointer to give the Warriors a 31-28 lead.
In the third quarter, Del Norte could not get consistent shooting from its players and allowed the Panthers the chance to take the open shot.
By the end of the third period, Del Norte found itself up by only a single point at 39-38.
The fourth quarter saw the game go back and fourth, but the Panthers were holding on to a 50-48 lead with about 31 seconds left in the game.
With time running out, Warrior junior Cody Hoffman drained a jumper to tie the game at the end of regulation.
In the extra session, John Stull of McKinleyville hit a jumper to give them a 56-55 lead with 1:06 remaining. On the Panther's next possession, Del Norte fouled Chris Pender, who made both of his free throws to give his team the 58-55 lead with 29.2 seconds left in regulation.
Van Hook than drained his crucial three-pointer for the Warriors with time running out to send the game to another overtime and give another chance for Del Norte to gain the win.
But the Panthers prevented Del Norte from scoring a single point in the second overtime. McKinleyville also made four free throws near the end of the game to seal up the upset.
Hoffman led Warrior scorers with 15 points. Senior post player Saxon Schultz had 12 points, Van Hook had nine points, while Lesley finished with eight and junior Brock Coluson had six points.
Next week, Del Norte plays both of its games at home.
On Tuesday they face Eureka at 7:30 p.m. Eureka also suffered an upset on Friday, losing to Hoopa of the Little 4, 61-58. The Loggers are also 2-1 in the Big 5.
Arcata,who Del Norte defeated on Wednesday 51-47, downed Fortuna 54-45 to improve to 3-1 in the Big 5 to take back first place in the conference. Fortuna is winless in the Big 5.
Lopez said the contest against the Loggers is an "important game" for Del Norte.
"We have to defend our home court," he said.
Friday, the Warriors face St. Bernard's of the Little 4.
On a positive note, the freshman and junior varsity teams for Del Norte each won its respective game.