The Del Norte boys basketball team got off to a strong start in Sisters on Thursday, following two full weeks between tournaments for the Warriors.
Coach Blaine Lopez said the Del Norte Varsity Boys team’s win against the Sisters Oregon team took away their huge size advantage.
“I’m really proud of them,” he said, adding that the team showed energy and enthusiasm throughout the game. “I thought it was as well as we had played all year.” The team took a win with a final score of 33-28.
However, the team took a tough loss to the number one team in the state, in Banks, Oregon on Saturday.
“They’re a very good team. It’s not an accident that they’re number one,” Lopez said. “We didn’t play with the same effort as we did the night before. “They’re a good team, but we kinda laid an egg.”
Lopez noted that the team is now preparing for leagues which start on Jan 10. His team will be playing Wednesday at Hoopa, against a team Lopez said he knows little about as of yet.
Del Norte jumped ahead of Baker in the early going and lead for almost the entire game, though Baker was able to keep within striking distance throughout the contest.
The Warriors held a slim lead throughout the first half which never got bigger than six points. Although Del Norte struggled to hit some open shots in the contest, the Warriors hit the offensive boards hard and were able to get enough second chance points to maintain a slim lead.
“I thought we came out with good energy,” Lopez said. “We had lots and lots of opportunities, we just didn’t shoot the ball very well. That is just how it goes sometimes. In our defense though, we probably had our best rebounding game that we had all year. We got a lot of second chances, we just couldn’t throw it in the ocean. The rims were pretty stiff. It definitely wasn’t very forgiving.”
After holding a four-point lead at halftime, Del Norte went on an 8-2 run to open the third quarter to stretch its lead to double digits, but once again Baker came charging back. Baker capped a quick 7-0 run to pull within three points with just less than three minutes to go in the third quarter.
Baker was able to close the gap to four points a couple times in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors never let Baker get within a basket in the final eight minutes.
“I thought our energy was good and for the most part we played pretty well. We just have to learn to play with that level of intensity and not foul as much. They must have scored 18 points on free throws, so we can’t foul so much. We were more consistent tonight, but we had some stretches where we just went brain-dead. We turned the ball over four straight times and we just can’t do that. We could have been ahead by 14 or 16 points instead of by three.”
Del Norte had a balanced offensive attack against Baker with seven players scoring in the game, including five players with at least six points.
Junior Ethan Price and sophomore Omar Banuelos paced the Warriors with 15 points apiece. Mitchell reached double figures with 10 points, while Howard Soule added 9 points and Nolan O’Kelly chipped in with 6 points.