How does the Del Norte High girls basketball team get over the hump?
The Warriors suffered their third consecutive Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League season - all by five points or fewer - in a 58-54 loss to Fortuna High on Tuesday night at Del Norte High School.
"The three games we played in league, other teams haven't beaten us," Warriors head coach Mike Ernest said. "We've done everything to beat ourselves."
The seeds of the Warriors' (8-8 overall, 0-3 HDN Big 5) demise were sown in a 3-minute, 28-second scoring drought between the third and fourth quarters. The Huskies (7-9, 2-2) scored six points to take a 40-37 lead that they would not relinquish.
A Brittany Maready basket cut Fortuna's lead to 42-41 with 6:11 remaining, but that would be as close as Del Norte would get. Two Regin Loftin baskets were the only Warrior points in the next five minutes as the Huskies built up an advantage as great as eight points.
The proverbial little things continue to haunt Del Norte in league play. The Warriors were 3-of-8 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter; the Huskies hit 10-of-13. Fortuna benefited from numerous second chances on the offensive end as Del Norte struggled in rebounding late in the game.
"We finally hit shots like we knew we could," Ernest said. "We battled defensively. We just haven't figured out how to keep momentum. We blew a lot of open layups."
Warriors senior Emma Card led all scorers with 16 points. Junior Kaitlyn Clemann chipped in a season-high 12 points, with her activity level bothering Fortuna in the post.
"Kaitlyn played big for us," Ernest said. "She got rebounds and buckets in the post. I wish we could all come together one time instead of one of us having a big game."
The first half started auspiciously for both teams. Del Norte knocked down three three-pointers and Card converted a three-point play in the Warriors' first five possessions. Fortuna countered with consecutive three-pointers from Sophie Northern and Shelby Lipscomb.
As if by the flick of a switch, Del Norte could not score, going 9 minutes and 11 seconds without a field goal as the Huskies turned a 14-9 deficit into a 25-16 lead.
An Emma Card basket broke the ignominious streak, and Clemann scored six points in the final 2:31, but Fortuna held a 28-27 lead into halftime.
The Del Norte High junior varsity squad took control of its game against Fortuna early and never let up, finishing off a 42-32 victory. The Warriors improved their league record to 2-1 (8-3 overall).
Northern led the Huskies with 17 points, and Kenzie Rice scored 13 points.
In the freshman game, Del Norte lost to the Huskies, 33-28, dropping to 4-5 overall (1-2 HDN Big 5).
The Warriors travel to Arcata today. The freshmen will face the Tigers at 4:30 p.m., followed by the junior varsity game at 6 p.m. and the varsity game at 7:30 p.m.
Reach Robert Husseman at email@example.com.