The Del Norte boys basketball team has picked up a pair of comfortable victories through the first day of the three-day Cloverdale Tournament to earn a spot in today’s championship game.
The Warriors opened the tournament with a 71-7 win over Anderson Valley and followed that up with a 51-21 win over Saint Helena in the semifinals.
The Warriors kicked off the tournament against Anderson Valley in what turned out to be a bit of a mismatch between the North Coast Section Division IV Warriors and the NCS Division VI Panthers.
The Warriors cruised to a relatively easy 71-7 victory in the opener to advance to Friday’s semifinal game.
“They have a new coach and its a new varsity program, so it is hard to really get much out of it,” said Del Norte head coach Blaine Lopez of Del Norte’s first round opponent. “We just wanted to make sure that we stayed healthy, and we wanted to make sure that we were doing things the right way.”
Against Saint Helena the Warriors were stuck in a close game throughout the first half, before pulling away throughout the second half for a 30-point win.
Lopez said the ball stuck too much on offense in the early going as players tried a little bit too much one-on-one action.
“We just came out flat, and we played very selfishly in the first half,” Lopez said.
Del Norte still held a 20-14 lead at halftime, but that lead quickly mushroomed into an insurmountable advantage in the third quarter. The Warriors opened the second half on an 8-0 run and ended up outscoring Saint Helena 20-5 in the period.
“The entire difference was we came out with enthusiasm and we played team basketball,” Lopez said. “As badly as we played in the first half, we played that well in the second half. We had great ball movement and they didn’t able to score much. We played well the whole second half, but we were very good in the fourth quarter.”
Lopez said he hopes Friday’s game helps his team to understand the level of intensity and execution that it needs to play with to have a successful season.
“I hope that we learned that we can’t just show up,” Lopez said. “We can be competitive for sure, but we have to play. Team’s aren’t going to fold for us, so we have to play our style of basketball — we have to play with great energy and play unselfish team basketball. If we do that we give ourselves a good chance to win, but if we don’t do that we will be in trouble.”
The Cloverdale Tournament is Del Norte’s first opportunity to play with its full varsity roster availible after six players from the Warrior football team finally joined practices on Monday. Although Lopez is glad to be at full strength, the team still has some work to do to get everyone one the same page and ready to go.
“They are still in football shape,” Lopez said of this week’s additions to the roster. “The conditioning part of that is going to take a little while. Obviously it is nice to have the football guys out, but it is going to take a while for them to gel, and for them to get in basketball shape. They are totally different muscles, and totally different conditioning between football and basketball.”
Although the Warriors finally have the ros ter they expected to play the season with this year, Del Norte is already playing its second varsity tournament.
With six varsity players still playing football last weekend, five members of the Del Norte junior varsity squad made the trip to Yreka last week to help the Warriors take third place overall while going 2-1 to start the season.
“I want to give a lot of credit to the kids that played with us last weekend,” Lopez said. “They had never played varsity before in their lives, and they all stepped up and played last weekend and we took third place. They did a good job while they were here.”
Del Norte will be back in action in Cloverdale today, trying to win its first tournament championship of the season. The Warriors will take on the winner of Friday nights semifinal game between host Cloverdale and St. Bernard’s. The game is scheduled to tip off at 7 p.m. today.
“I hope we see a little more of what we saw in the second half on Friday,” Lopez said. “There is obviously no guarantee that we are going to win if we play like that, but it definitely gives us a legitimate chance to win when we do.”
In other boys basketball action, the Del Norte junior varsity boys beat McKinleyville 64-48 at the St. Bernard’s Tournament on Friday in Eureka.