Del Norte not intimidated, topples taller Loggers 53-33
The boys basketball matchup between Del Norte and Eureka was reminiscent of David versus Goliath.
The Loggers came into Thunen Gymnasium on Thursday with a lineup that dwarfed the Warriors. Del Norte is used to being the shorter team, but Eureka was 5-8 inches taller at nearly every position.
Like David, the Warriors didn't flinch at the height disparity, using stingy defense and hustle in lieu of a slingshot to capture a 53-33 victory.
"Once again I thought our effort was outstanding, especially in the second half," said Del Norte head coach Blaine Lopez. "I also though we executed really well. That was probably the best we have executed this year. We spread the court and took care of the ball for the most part."
The first half was an evenly matched contrast of styles that ended in a 26-26 tie. Eureka pounded the ball into the post, scoring 18 of its 26 first-half points in the paint.
Del Norte, meanwhile, thrived in transition. The Warriors were also able to get into the lane on occasion, with some spectacular drives. Junior guard Steven Maready led the team with a career-high 21 points, including 14 in the first half.
In the second half, Del Norte was able to make some adjustments defensively to lock Eureka down.
"We were fronting the post in the first half and they were just too big," Lopez said. "They lobbed over us too easily, so we switched to playing behind them. I also thought we did a better job of ball pressure and the help-side defense got there quicker."
The changes clearly bothered the Loggers, who managed just one field goal and seven points in the entire second half.
With 4:15 left in the third quarter, Del Norte's only player taller than 6 feet, Brandon Japp, picked up his fourth foul and had to go to the bench. He came back in at the start of the fourth quarter, but fouled out 15 seconds later.
Without Japp in the game, Del Norte looked almost comically small compared to its opponent. The Warriors were able to find a way to use that to their advantage.
"We tried to limit their possessions a little bit and make them chase us," Lopez said. "They are big. We had to go small when we got into foul trouble and it ended up working in our favor. I think they got tired of chasing us around a little bit."
Del Norte went on a 7-0 run spanning the entire third quarter to take the lead. Maready and Napooi Shorty both scored seven points in the fourth quarter to help the Warriors stretch the lead as high as 21 points.
"It helps a lot when you make shots," Lopez said. "We made shots and that makes everything better."
Shorty finished with 9 points for Del Norte and Japp scored 7.
Once again, Lopez thought it took an entire team effort to get the victory.
"I am not just talking about the kids that come off the bench and play," Lopez said. "It was a total team effort and I don't think people realize how important our bench is. They bust their butt everyday in practice trying to get these guys better, knowing that their chances of playing in the game are not very high. That takes a pretty unique kid to do that, and we have great kids that work hard every day.
"How excited where they last night in the game? They were standing up and cheering and you don't always get that. They deserve as much credit as anyone who gets to play in the games."
The win improves Del Norte's record to 8-6 overall and 2-1 in the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 standings. The Warriors will be back on the court Tuesday at Hoopa in non-league action.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org.