The Del Norte boys basketball team never trailed in its home opener on Monday against Brookings-Harbor in Thunen Gym. The Warriors came out with high energy and jumped out to a 12-0 lead in the first five minutes en route to a 64-38 win over the Bruins.
“They just beat us from start to finish,” said Brookings-Harbor head coach Buell Gonzales. “Del Norte was way more physical and way more aggressive. We shied away from the contact and shied away from the moment. Del Norte just beat us — they are a better team than we are.”
Although the Warriors were able to control the game with a double digit lead for the final three quarters, there were still a few too many mistakes for Del Norte’s liking.
“I thought our effort was really good,” said Del Norte head coach Blaine Lopez. “We have to take better care of the ball — that is first and foremost. We can’t turn the ball over 18 times, but I thought we made up for it a little bit with our effort — we played extremely hard. Obviously we also hit some shots. It is always nice to see the ball go in the basket.”
Del Norte took control of the game almost from the opening tip. The Warriors defended hard and created a few turnovers with a full court press while also hammering the offensive glass to clean up their missed shots.
“I thought we shot the ball well,” Lopez said. “We got open shots and made them. Our energy was also just terrific. We got two or three shots per possession for the first four or five possessions. That obviously makes a huge difference.”
After the first quarter, Brookings started to settle into the game, keeping Del Norte from running up its lead. Austin Fronckowiak kicked off the second quarter with a driving layup, and a 3-pointer on the Bruins’ next possession to pull within seven points.
Del Norte’s Damian Dowd ended the run with a free throw before Omar Banuelos exploded offensively. The Warrior junior hit three 3-pointers on back-to-back-to-back possessions to push the Warriors ahead by 16 points.
The Bruins once again buckled down and battled back to within 10 points once again by halftime.
“We are a good team. We just went away from us. Once we settled down we were fine, but when you give a team momentum at their home and have to scrap to catch up it is just too much.”
After halftime Del Norte worked the ball inside a little bit more, recording four layups in the early going to start the half on an 8-0 run. The Warriors continued to build on that advantage, pushing their lead up to 18 points by the start of the fourth quarter, and Del Norte managed to cruise to the victory from there.
Although they got the win, Lopez said Del Norte needs to work on its offensive ball security.
“We got a little excited,” Lopez said. “Again, we have only had six practices. That is the stuff that we have to improve upon though. We can’t turn the ball over like that. Everybody contributed, which is always good to see, but we are a long ways from where we want to be.”
Banuelos lead all scorers with 29 points, including 24 points and all six of his 3-pointers in the first half. Ethan Price added 8 points for Del Norte, while Kobe Mitchell chipped in 7.
Brookings was led offensively by Luke Beaman with 10 points. Austin Fronckowiak and Brig Schofield both added 8 points apiece for the Bruins.
With the win, Del Norte improves to 7-2 overall this season. The Warriors will be back in action at the Summit Tournament in Bend, Oregon, starting Sept. 27.
“Hopefully they understand that we can’t turn the ball over like that, but I also hope that they understand that our tempo was really good, and I thought our effort was really good,” Lopez said. “We have to bring those things every night without turning the ball over.”
Brookings falls to 5-4 overall this season following Monday’s loss.
“I hope they learn from it, and they listen,” Gonzales said. “It is always nice to have opportunities to get better. Hopefully we do that. We need to play more as a team. I thought we had a lot of individual plays out there. We had guys doing their own thing, and that makes it difficult to beat a team like Del Norte, because they play well together.”
Brookings is scheduled to be back in action today, taking on Henley in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Warriors wrap up in Anderson
Prior to Monday’s game against Brookings, the Warriors wrapped up the Anderson Tournament in the consolation finals with a one-sided 68-23 victory over Live Oak.
“Defensively we were really good on Saturday and we hit a few shots early, which always makes things easier,” Lopez said. “Sometimes when you jump on teams like that it is hard for them to recover.”
With a comfortable lead after the early going, every Del Norte player was able to log significant minutes.
“Everybody got to play, and it was nice because everybody contributed a little bit,” Lopez said.
Del Norte finished the Anderson Tournament with a 2-1 overall record. The Warriors fell in overtime in the first round of the tournament but bounced back for big wins to capture the consolation title.
“Basically for the whole weekend I thought that our intensity was pretty good,” Lopez said. “I thought the kids, for the most part, played hard. The first night we just played very poorly, but we played very well the other nights.”
Lopez said Thursday’s poor showing against Central Valley has been an isolated incident so far this year, and hopefully was an aberration.
“For the most part we have been pretty good, we just had one game that we played so poorly in,” Lopez said. “Hopefully that is over now, and I told the guys that I hope they learned something from it, because that can happen on any night. We just have to understand that every night we have to make sure that we come to play — both physically and mentally.”
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .