Coming out of a timeout, Del Norte senior Howard Soule got the inbounds pass with 7.9 seconds left in the second overtime and went to work.
The senior guard started right, before cutting back hard to the left near the baseline. As Soule neared the hoop he put up an off-balance scoop layup with a lot of English on it. The ball careened off the backboard and found the basket with just 1.8 seconds left to push the Warriors boys basketball team to a 46-45 victory over Arcata in Del Norte’s first home game of the season.
“I wish that I could sit here and say that that is exactly how I drew it up and he went out there and did it,” said Del Norte head coach Blaine Lopez. “But that was just a senior taking leadership and going and winning the game for us. I am proud of him, and I am proud of everybody. We didn’t play great, but we battled. I think we played as hard as we can play, and that is what we ask of our guys.”
Soule’s scoop shot, followed by a missed desperation three-pointer by Arcata, capped a wild Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 game that went back and forth all night long.
Del Norte jumped out to an 11-5 lead in the first quarter and stretched its lead to 22-14 at halftime, but the Warriors went ice-cold in the third quarter, scoring just two points, as the Tigers tied the game up at 24-24 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Warriors found their offensive rhythm a little in the final period but couldn’t shake Arcata as neither team led by more than four points in the quarter.
Soule kicked off the first overtime with a three-pointer, but Del Norte couldn’t score in the final 3:33 of the period. Luckily, the Warrior defense was sound throughout the overtime period, giving up just three points to the Tigers.
“We were fortunate that they missed some easy shots, but for the most part we were in the right place and did the right things,” Lopez said. “I’m just so proud of our energy and effort. And props to the crowd too. I thought that they helped to give us some energy. It is great playing at home finally. It’s nice to put the white uniforms on. The kids loved the crowd. It was a great place to play.”
After starting the game a little stagnantly offensively, the Warriors really found their flow in the second overtime, putting up nine points in the four-minute period. Del Norte had five different players score two points or less in the second overtime.
“I thought that we were a little stagnant early,” Lopez said. “We talked about it a few times, but I just think that they loosened up a little bit, which is kind of weird. They got the ball in the right spots and we just seemed to be a little more fluid. We were a little stagnant in the first half and actually in the first three quarters.”
Arcata was still able to keep pace, however, getting the ball inside a few times and hitting four of five free throws in the second overtime to grab a 45-44 lead with 18 seconds remaining.
Soule finished with a team-high 14 points in the game. Ethan Price and Omar Banuelos both added nine points apiece for Del Norte, while Mason Mitchell chipped in six points.
“It was a great basketball game,” Lopez said. “It sounds cliché, but it really does suck that someone had to lose that. I thought both teams really put everything out on the floor. I’m just happy that we came out on top obviously.”
The win was Del Norte’s first in the Big 5 this season, lifting the Warriors to 1-1 in the HDN, and 8-7 overall.
“You kind of have to win at home, so that was a big one,” Lopez said. “It wasn’t a must-win yet, but it is as close to a must-win game as it can be at this point in the season. We really needed that one.”