Robert Husseman, The Triplicate

Warriors fall to St. Mary's of Medford in championship game; Del Norte boys fall in final second to Yreka

This much the Del Norte High girls basketball team has down: It can compete with anyone it plays, and head coach Mike Ernest is looking to reinforce that belief.

The Warriors made their first showing of 2012andndash;13 count in a big way, taking second place at the Miners Invitational Tournament in Yreka on Nov. 29andndash;Dec. 1.

"I told the girls I was proud of them," Ernest said. "They battled hard."

After a first-round victory over tournament host Yreka High on Thursday, Del Norte matched up with Klamath Union High of Klamath Falls, Ore. The Warriors dispatched the Pelicans, 60-43, to advance to the finals.

Del Norte fell behind early against the Crusaders of St. Mary's High of Medford, trailing by as much as 14 in the first half.The Warriors cut the halftime deficit to nine points and improved their standing in the third quarter, building a slight three-point lead.

From there, things turned dire in a hurry.

"We stopped executing and playing defense," Ernest said.

The end result: A 62-40 loss, a bitter pill to swallow.

Of course, the Warriors' first loss of the year came after they accrued two wins, matching the 2011andndash;12 win total, and there are no upper boundaries to the potential of a basketball team based on results in early December.

"Now they know what their capabilities are," Ernest said. "My job is to get them to compete at a high level. I'm excited about what we have, our potential."

The Warriors host their first game of the 2012andndash;13 season when Phoenix (Ore.) High comes to Del Norte High School today. Freshman teams will play at 4:30 p.m., followed by junior varsity at 6 p.m. and varsity at 7:30 p.m.

After the Phoenix game, Del Norte will head to Mt. Shasta for a three-day tournament taking place Thursday through Saturday.

In the Miners Invitational boys' tournament, an inopportune foul hampered Del Norte's bid for its first win of the season.

The Warriors fouled a Yreka player with 0.4 seconds remaining in a tie game, and a pair of free throws sealed a 50-48 victory for the Miners.

"They've just got to learn to play harder, and that's on me," Del Norte coach Blaine Lopez said. "We did not play with enough passion and energy. We're not anywhere close to where we need to be when league gets here."

The Warriors' varsity squad travels to Brookings for a two-day tournament on Friday and Saturday. The Del Norte junior varsity squad will head to Eureka on Friday and Saturday for a two-day tournament hosted by St. Bernard's Catholic High.

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