Post defense, outside shooting lead to Warriors' first home win of season
Home has been where the heartbreak is for Del Norte High boys basketball this season.
The Warriors entered their Tuesday night Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League contest against Eureka High winless in five games in Thunen Gymnasium this season. The bigger, stronger Loggers looked to avenge a Jan. 9 loss in Eureka.
Ultimately, Del Norte used physical interior play and timely outside shooting to defeat Eureka, 52-42, and improve to 2-4 in HDN league play (7-11 overall).
Warriors senior Sean DeArman led all scorers with 20 points and combined with fellow posts Brandon Japp, Aaron Fitch and Raul Zepeda to limit the Loggers' best big men, Eli Savage (seven points) and Nathan Madsen (one point). Marcus Finney led Eureka (6-12 overall, 0-5 HDN Big 5) with 10 points.
"They thought we had mismatches," Lopez said. "Guys did a good job of double-teaming and dropping down (to close the painted area)."
Del Norte led 24-18 entering the third quarter but saw its lead dissipate to three points. The Warriors rallied to outscore Eureka 9-2 in a five-minute span and regain control of the game.
The Loggers had another comeback in them in the fourth quarter, hitting two straight baskets to pull within eight points. Del Norte sophomore Josh Gruden hit a three-pointer with 4:27 remaining to put the Warriors up 45-34 and stave off further comeback attempts.
Gruden hit three three-pointers on his way to 12 points.
"He played probably the best game of the year, and we needed him to," Lopez said of Gruden.
The Warriors' big men prevented the Loggers from coming back in the second half through their efforts on the boards. Eureka was limited to four second-chance attempts in the second half, with two coming in the game's final minute.
"They more than held their own on the boards," Lopez said of his post players. (Eureka is) huge. That's the biggest team we're going to see."
The Loggers' size was no match for Del Norte's hot start. After turning the ball over on their first two possessions, the Warriors scored 10 points on their next four possessions, racing out to a 19-9 lead at the first quarter's end.
The two teams fought a war of attrition in the second quarter. Del Norte hit two field goals in the period, one of them a Gruden three-pointer with 1:39 remaining in the first half that quashed a six-point scoring rally by Eureka.
The Warriors' freshman team also earned a victory Tuesday night, defeating the Loggers 67-24. Eureka's junior varsity squad got the best of Del Norte in a 45-41 decision.
The Warriors continue their season Tuesday night against Fortuna, Del Norte's Senior Night game. The freshman teams will play at 4:30 p.m., followed by the junior varsity at 6 p.m. and the varsity at 7:30 p.m.
Reach Robert Husseman at email@example.com.