Warriors beat Jefferson (Portland) 48-37 in final to bring home title

After a couple of second- and third-place finishes this season, the Del Norte girls basketball team was finally able to bring home a championship from the Bandon Tournament on Saturday.

The Warriors were able to pull away from Jefferson (Portland) late for a 48-37 victory in the title game. Despite the double-digit margin of victory, the game was tight throughout.

"They matched up well against us size-wise," said Warriors head coach Jeff Cook said. "We were just a little bit more athletic."

Jefferson was able to keep Del Norte off-balance, especially early. Jefferson constantly switched up its defensive alignment to keep the Warriors from getting comfortable.

Jefferson capitalized on Del Norte's confusion to grab an 11-8 lead in the first quarter. As the game progressed, however, the Warriors started beating the Jefferson defense.

"They adjusted throughout the game," Cook said. "It was a different look for us. Most teams either play all zone, or play man and switch to zone, but Jefferson was switching its defense pretty much every time down."

Del Norte ended up with balanced scoring, with six Warriors scoring 6 points or more. Kaitlyn Clemann led the way with 11 points to go along with 11 rebounds. Cook was also impressed with Clemann's defense against Jefferson's point guard in the championship game.

Kayla Costello and Pahnia Yang scored 8 points apiece for Del Norte, Regin Loftin netted 7 points and Grace Bruschi and Jordan Babich both chipped in 6 points.

"Everybody did a little bit," Cook said.

Bruschi was named the tournament Most Valuable Player.

Del Norte's first championship of the season came on the heels of a team-bonding experience in Bandon. After checking out of the hotel at around noon on Saturday, the girls had a little free time before the championship game. They used it to spend a couple hours at the West Coast Game Park Safari.

"They loved it," Cook said with a laugh. "I don't know if some of them had never been to the zoo, but they were all excited like little kids. It got them loose enough, they won the championship, so maybe next year if we come back we will have to go again."

The victory moves Del Norte to 8-4 overall.

"It was a nice way to end the preseason, and the boys won too, so it was a Del Norte sweep," Cook said. "I don't think that has ever happened. It was fun for the girls. I am still not putting a lot into it because it is the preseason, but it was good for their confidence."

The Warriors play again Friday when they open Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 league games by hosting Arcata.

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com.