The Del Norte boys basketball team started the season off slowly, picking up a 52-41 loss on Thursday against Mt. Shasta, followed by a 76-71 loss to Henley in double overtime on Friday. The Warriors are hoping to finally get one in the win column today as they square off in the seventh-place game at the 63rd annual Yreka Miners Invitational.
The Warriors were a little out of sorts as they kicked off the 2017-18 season in Yreka against Mt. Shasta, and the Bears were able to take advantage by running up a big first-half lead to take control of the game.
“We just opened up extremely lethargically and didn’t play well in the first half,” said Del Norte head coach Blaine Lopez. “We just dug ourselves a hole that we just couldn’t get out of, trailing by 17 points at the half. We just didn’t come out ready to play, and that is my fault. We have to do a better job from the start. We just weren’t ready defensively. We shot the ball poorly, but nobody in the world tries to miss shots; that is just going to happen. But we have to play better defensively.”
The Warriors were able to turn things around in the second half and got the Mt. Shasta lead back within single digits, but the big halftime lead was just too much for Del Norte to overcome.
“I was proud of the way that we came out in the second half,” Lopez said. “We played much better and actually cut the lead to six at one point. We had a couple chances to make it even closer — we just couldn’t quite get over the hump.”
Senior Mason Mitchell lead the Warriors with 14 points on Thursday while junior Ethan Price chipped in 11 points for the Warriors.
On Friday, Del Norte took on Henley in the consolation semifinals.
After a back and forth first half, Henley grabbed the lead in the second half and never surrendered it, though the Warriors were able to battle back and tie the game on several occasions before ultimately coming up a little short in double overtime.
“We played much better today overall, but we still had some lapses defensively,” Lopez said. “Today our biggest issue, which was different from (Thursday’s game), was that we just had too many careless turnovers. That is something that we just can’t do.”
The Warriors put theirselves behind the ball with three turnovers in their first four possessions. Del Norte also turned the ball over on its first three possessions of overtime, and committed a turnover in both of its first two possessions in the second overtime period.
“That is almost turnovers right there in the second half and overtime,” Lopez said. “We just started out behind in each session there, so obviously that can’t happen.”
Despite slow starts to the second half and both overtime periods, the Warriors were able to clean things up late in each period and fight back into the game.
Del Norte had the ball with a chance to win the game at the end of regulation but wasn’t able to convert with a basket. In the first overtime, senior Howard Soule connected on a three-pointer at the buzzer from just across the half court line to force a second overtime.
“We didn’t do anything special down the stretch, but we didn’t turn it over either,” Lopez said. “That was the big thing because at least you have a chance when you get a shot off. Turnovers are empty possessions because you don’t even have a chance. If you close your eyes and throw the ball up it might go in, but with a turnover you don’t even have that chance.”
Del Norte fell behind by eight points just two minutes into the second overtime, but the Warriors once again closed the gap to make the game interesting.
Omar Banuelos’ three pointer with less than a minute left cut the Hornets’ lead to four points, but Henley hit three of four three throws down the stretch to hold on for the win.
“We are going to have to get more physical,” Loprez said. “They were definitely more physical than we were and they were able to push us around a little bit. The Big 5 is a physical league, so we are going to have to improve on that for sure.”
Soule finished the game on Friday with a team-high 28 points. Banuelos chipped in 17 points for the Warriors while Price added 16 against Henley.
Del Norte will wrap up the Yreka Miners Invitational today, tipping off their seventh-place matchup at 9 a.m. The Warriors will play the loser of the other consolation semifinal game between Lower Lake and Brookings.
“We would like to get a win (today) and then get back to work on Monday to get ready for next weekend,” Lopez said. “Next weekend we will be playing three good teams — our preseason is pretty tough overall. We don’t have any gimmes.”
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org.