Both the Del Norte boys and girls basketball teams will officially open their seasons today as the Yreka Miners Invitational kicks off and runs through Saturday.

The Warriors girls will be the first Del Norte team in action, taking on Klamath Union in the first round of the eight-team bracket starting at 2:30 p.m. The Del Norte boys will open play against Mt. Shasta at 4 p.m. on Thursday.

The Warriors game times on Friday and Saturday will depend upon the result of the previous day’s game.

Although the Del Norte basketball teams open their season at the tournament in Yreka every year, Lopez said there will be a few unfamiliar teams in attendance in 2017.

“There are a few new teams there this year,” said Del Norte boys basketball head coach Blaine Lopez. “It is always a pretty good start to the season. We will open against Mt. Shasta, and they have probably the best guard that we will see all year. He has been playing varsity since he was a freshman. That will definitely be a tough game to start out with, then we have Crater and Hanley on our side of the bracket as well, so there are no easy ones.”

Lopez said his main goal for the tournament is for his players to play hard and show the type of effort that will be needed for a successful season this year.

“We are going to have to limit our turnovers and we are going to have to out-scrap everybody,” Lopez said. “We are going to be undersized against pretty much everybody we play, so the key is going to be making sure that we are playing absolutely as hard as we can play, then we will live with everything else after that.”

Although the Del Norte girls basketball team also attends the Miners Invitational every year, it will be first-year head coach Justin Clifton’s first foray with the varsity in Yreka. Clifton said defense will be the main focus of the program while he is the head coach.

“If you can play defense, you can play for me,” Clifton said. “I don’t care if you can’t shoot the basketball, if you can play defense you can play for me — that is the bottom line. The girls are buying into it. If you can make a layup, you can make a free throw, and you can play defense you are going to be very successful.”

With strong defense at the forefront of the Warrior girls’ minds, Clifton said he hopes his squad can bottle up each of its opponents in Yreka.

“In the first tournament I do not want the other team to score a single basket,” Clifton said. “There are a lot of coaches that want to score 80 points, but I will take a 20-0 win. That is how I was taught — your man does not score.”

On the radio

All Del Norte boys basketball games, home and away, will be broadcast on 97.9 FM KPOD this season starting with the Yreka Miners Invitational this weekend. The broadcast can also be streamed online at delnortesports.com.

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com.

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