By Bill Choy
Triplicate Sports Editor
Tonight, the Del Norte High boys basketball team hopes to make it three in a row against Arcata.
After defeating them twice in the regular season by a grand total of six points, the Warriors face the Tigers at the College of the Redwoods in Eureka at 7 p.m. in the championship game of the Dick Niclai Tournament.
Warrior head coach Blaine Lopez said it will certainly be a challenging game tonight.
andquot;Any time it's hard enough beating a team twice, let alone three times,andquot; he said. andquot;Especially against a quality team like Arcata.andquot;
andquot;We're going to go out, play hard and try to win the game,andquot; Lopez added.
On Jan. 16 at home, Del Norte won 51-47. Senior Cliff Van Hook paced the Warriors, making six three-pointers. He scored 24 points for the game.
On Jan. 31 in Arcata, the Warriors squeaked out a defensive battle in a 35-33 win over the Tigers.
Van Hook came up big yet again. With the game tied at 33, he made a shot with a little more than a second remaining to give Del Norte the victory.
Lopez said his team needs to to play smart basketball and not make the little mistakes that can jeopardize a win.
The squad needs to especially win the battle of the boards, he said.
andquot;They rebound really well,andquot; Lopez said about Arcata. He added fundamentals like diving for loose balls, playing exceptional defense, not committing turnovers, sinking free throws, and staying out of foul trouble will be key for his team.
The Warriors finished the regular season with a 6-2 mark in the Big 5 Conference, good enough for first and the conference crown.
Del Norte is 17-5 overall after downing Hoopa by 22-points at home in its first game of the Niclai Tourney on Wednesday. Del Norte had a first round bye for winning the Big 5. The tournament pits the top three teams from both the Big 5 and Little 4 conferences.
Arcata finished tied for second in the Big 5 and has an overall record of 18-8. To get to the championship, the Tigers easily disposed of the Little 4 No. 1 seed, St. Bernard's by 19 points on Wednesday
Even though the game is in Eureka, as has been the case all season, a good sized crowd from Del Norte County is expected on the road.
Lopez said having the support of the home fans is always appreciated.
By winning the Big 5, Del Norte earned an automatic North Coast Section playoff bid.
The coaching staff will find out on Sunday who they will face.
The game will be played either Tuesday or Wednesday, with a good chance it will be played at home.