The Del Norte boys basketball team struggled to score against Arcata on Friday as the Tigers held the Warriors to their second lowest point total of the season. Arcata took a lead in the third quarter and held the Warriors at arm’s length down the stretch, escaping Crescent City with a 54-49 win over Del Norte.

“We just didn’t play very well. The game can’t be that close at the end. We just had trouble scoring. Arcata just beat us. They played better than we did,” said Del Norte head coach Blaine Lopez. “Maybe they are disappointed (after Wednesday’s loss to Fortuna) but it doesn’t matter, you can’t come out and play like that. Give Arcata credit though, they beat us. We just got beat tonight.”

Arcata had a big third quarter, holding the Warriors to just six points to turn a 30-25 Del Norte lead at halftime into a 39-36 lead for the Tigers heading into the third quarter.

Del Norte’s Omar Banuelos tied the game up on the Warriors’ first possession of the fourth quarter with a three-pointer and answered an Arcata basket with another three to put the Warriors back in front with 6:14 left in the game.

The Tigers answered with back-to-back three pointers of their own to jump back ahead by five, and although the Warriors quickly climbed back within a score on a turnaround jumper by Judah Robinson in the paint with 4:27 to play, Del Norte wasn’t able to get over the hump.

Nolan O’Kelly grabbed a big rebound off of his own missed three and made a layup with 1:53 left in the game to pull within two points, but the Warriors missed a three-point shot to tie the game on their next possession.

Arcata nudged its lead up to three with a free throw with 17.3 seconds remaining, and Del Norte got the shot that it wanted with an open three-pointer in the corner by Omar Banuelos, but the shot was off the mark, and Arcata’s Hunter Santsche grabbed the rebound and made a pair of free throws with 5.2 seconds remaining to secure the win for the Tigers.

Arcata had a balanced scoring attack throughout the game with nine players scoring in the contest. The Tigers were led by Jaden Gorge with 12 points, while Mason Railsback added eight points for Arcata.

Banuelos led all scorers with 19 points, including five three-pointers. Ethan Price added 13 points for the Warriors while Robinson chipped in 11.

With the loss, Del Norte falls to 12-6 overall this season and drops to 3-3 in the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 with two games left in the regular season.

The Warriors are still alone in second place in the league, but now sit just half a game in front of third place Arcata, which improves to 3-4 in the Big 5.

Del Norte will be back in action on Wednesday with a road game in McKinleyville scheduled to tip off at 7:30 p.m.

“It’s the end of the season. They have to come out and play hard every night, and they know that,” Lopez said. “If we don’t then it will be over. If we do we will have a chance to get into the tournament. We just have to play better.”

Reach Michael Zogg at mzogg@triplicate.com .

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