The Del Norte girls basketball team picked up a couple wins this week, starting with a rare win at home over Arcata on Wednesday, followed by a road win in McKinleyville on Friday. With the wins Del Norte stretched its winning streak to 10 games in a row, while the Warriors are also off to a 3-0 start in Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 League play.
Del Norte’s double digit winning streak will be back on the line today, as the Warriors host South Medford for a non-league game in Thunen Gymnasium starting at noon. South Medford comes into the game with a 10-2 overall record this season, and they are currently the No. 4 ranked team in Oregon’s largest class, 6A.
Del Norte 64, Arcata 51
For the first time in a decade the Del Norte girls basketball team finally pulled out a victory over Arcata.
Although the game was sloppy at times, with both teams committing many turnovers, Del Norte managed to put a run together midway through the third quarter after Arcata took its first lead of the game. The Warriors quickly retook the lead and managed to pull away at the end of the third quarter and throughout the fourth quarter to secure a 64-51 victory over the six-time defending Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 champions.
It was the first Del Norte win over the Tigers since the Warriors grabbed a road win in Arcata in 2008. Del Norte hadn’t beaten Arcata in Crescent City since 2001.
“I’m proud of the girls,” said Del Norte head coach Justin Clifton. “Everybody has been talking about the curse, but we broke the curse — the curse is gone. There was something weird going on, but we got through it, we broke that stupid curse, and the tides have turned. It is always nice to be 2-0 in league and to beat the team that has been kicking your butt for the last 18 years.”
Although the Warriors were excited to finally pull out a win over Arcata, Clifton thought the team could have played better on Wednesday.
“We won, but I am upset about it because we didn’t play very well. We just didn’t get going. The intensity and the energy was just not there,” Clifton said. “Offensively we weren’t horrible, we just weren’t running what we need to be running. We have to play better defense though. That was not like us at all. The first four minutes of the first quarter were good, but we lost it after that. We just have to play our game.”
The Warriors looked good in the opening minutes of the game, jumping out to a quick 4-0 lead just 36 seconds into the contest en route to a 10-point lead at 13-3 after 4:40 of play.
Once Del Norte’s lead reached double digits, however, Arcata turned up the pressure and climbed back into the game. The Tigers ended the first quarter on an 8-0 run to pull back within two points at the break.
“We were braking the press pretty well. We were just missing a lot of shots, and we were throwing the ball away,” Clifton said. “They didn’t get all that many steals, but we just had too many passes out of bounds, weird shots and missed layups. For whatever reason we just didn’t do very well against the press tonight and capitalizing when we broke it.”
In the second quarter the Warriors were able to build their lead back up with a 12-3 run to push their lead back into double digits at 25-14, but once again the Tigers buckled down and battled back, trailing by just four points at halftime.
In the third quarter it was Arcata that came out hot at the start of the period. After a free throw by Kaleya Sanchez in the first possession of the half pushed Del Norte’s lead up to five points, the Tigers came roaring back.
Arcata ripped off a quick 10-0 run over the next three minutes to take its first lead of the game at 34-29. The Warriors were able to answer with a quick 9-0 run of their own, which included a three-pointer from Jadence Clifton and another from Bella Stone to retake the lead for good.
The Tigers managed to hang around until late in the third period trailing by just four points before the Warriors bench came through and turned the tide.
“They were throwing things up and it was going in, and we were missing shots left and right,” Clifton said. “We were just totally in a funk. Finally a spark from our bench started the fire. We had a couple huge charges down the stretch from Aleesha (Lenover), which was great — she is leading the team for the whole year in taking charges. She plays her role well.”
Lenover also made an important three-point play late in the third quarter, grabbing an offensive rebound off of a missed free throw attempt and putting it back up for a bucket and a foul, resulting in a three-point play for a nine-point Warrior lead.
“Aleesha came in and right away got an offensive rebound and a putback while getting fouled, and she made her free throw,” Clifton said. “Then on the other end of the court she drew a charge to get one of Arcata’s girls to foul out. It’s little things like that that win you the ballgame.”
In the fourth quarter the Warriors managed to keep the momentum, building up another double-digit lead with six minutes left in the game. This time Del Norte managed to hold onto its advantage.
Sanchez led the Warriors with 19 points in the game while also grabbing 10 rebounds and five steals throughout the contest. Bella Stone chipped in 15 points while picking up a team-high eight steals in the game. Jadence Clifton tallied 14 points to go along with 10 rebounds and six assists.
Selene Ledezma put in four points for the Warriors while Aleesha Lenover and Kirsten Brous both chipped in three points apiece. Machaela Jackson, Ashley Lenover and Daniella Zepeda each scored a basket for two points as well.
As a team, Del Norte finished with a total of 20 steals in the game, but the Warriors also committed 15 turnovers.
Del Norte 48,
Del Norte used a big third quarter to turn a small deficit into a double digit lead on the road on Friday, and the Warriors were able to hold on down the stretch to pull out a close 48-42 victory over McKinleyville.
Del Norte struggled early in the game, especially offensively, as a rash of turnovers and missed shots from short range combined to hold the Warriors to less than 10 points in each of the first two quarters.
The Warriors managed to stay in the game throughout the first half largely thanks to a strong defensive performance that forced McKinleyville into eight turnovers in the half and allowed just three field goals apiece in each of the first two quarters.
“We didn’t do our game plan in the first half,” Clifton said. “We played good defense, which kept us in the game.”
The Panthers held a slim 19-17 lead at halftime.
Del Norte caught fire early in the second half as senior Kaleya Sanchez knocked down her first three-pointer of the season in the opening seconds of the half to put the Warriors back ahead 20-19, and Del Norte led for the rest of the game.
Sanchez went on to score the first seven points of the third quarter to kick off 17-4 run that set the Warriors up with a 34-23 advantage. The Panthers went on a bit of a run to pull back to within six points, but Kirsten Brous knocked down a three-pointer late in the third quarter to put the Warriors up 40-31 heading into the fourth quarter.
“We were isolating Kaleya on the low block because they didn’t have anybody who could guard her,” Clifton said. “When they double teamed her, Kaleya kicked it out to an open shooter. Bella and Jadence were both doing an excellent job, especially in the second half. I told them to look to isolate Kaleya on the block and that is what they did. They were playing very unselfishly.”
Sanchez continued to play well offensively in the final period, scoring all eight of Del Norte’s points, but McKinleyville managed to make the game close down the stretch.
“We weren’t giving up a lot of shots, but we were giving up a bunch of free throws,” Clifton said. “They shot a lot of free throws throughout the whole second half.”
The Panthers used a 10-2 run to pull within three points with 2:46 left in the game, but the Warriors managed to hold on down the stretch with some good defense to go along with a basket and a pair of free throws by Sanchez.
Sanchez finished with a game-high 25 points to lead the Warriors offensively. Jadence Clifton added nine points for Del Norte, Stone chipped in 7 and Brous added five points.
Sanchez nets 1,000 points
Four-year senior starter Kaleya Sanchez reached an impressive milestone earlier this season as she reached quadruple digits in scoring with 1,000 points. Sanchez and her accomplishment were recognized prior to the start of Wendesday’s home game against Arcata as Sanchez was given a basketball and some other swag to commemorate the event.
“Congratulations to Kaleya for reaching the 1,000 point mark,” Clifton said. “We had her at 1,028 points prior to (Wednesday’s game.) That is a pretty cool honor. The only other person to do it is Lauren Lesina.”
After 19 points against Arcata, and 25 more on Friday in McKinleyville, Sanchez sits at 1,072 points for her career heading into today’s game against South Medford.