The Del Norte boys basketball team was back to its old self on Friday as it shrugged off its recent three game losing streak and steamrolled Eureka 61-44 to secure second place in the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 in the regular season finale for both teams on Friday in Thunen Gym.
“I thought the effort was back,” said Del Norte head coach Blaine Lopez. “Tonight we had much better effort, obviously, than we have had in the last couple. I thought we started so well, and that was a big part of it. In the first quarter we kind of jumped on them. I thought that made a big difference. If we let them hang around it could have been a barn burner, but we jumped on them early and stayed on the throttle.”
The Warriors jumped all over the Loggers with a big 23-point first quarter to take a 16-point lead heading into the second quarter and Del Norte held a comfortable lead for the rest of the night on Senior Night in Crescent City. The Warriors went on an 18-4 run through the first 5:54 of the game and the Loggers just couldn’t find an answer as Del Norte’s defense forced lots of Logger turnovers throughout the night.
Del Norte junior Omar Banuelos was particularly impressive offensively early in the game with three three-pointers and 13 points in the opening quarter.
“We made some shots, that really helps,” Lopez said. “When you make shots it makes you look a lot better. We were also moving the ball extremely well. We made the extra pass, and played unselfish. It was fun to watch. That is the best that we have played in a couple games.”
After a big first quarter, the game evened out for much of the rest of the game. Del Norte managed to push its lead up to 19 points at 40-21 at halftime and the Warriors led by as many as 25 points in the third quarter.
The Warriors were led offensively by Ethan Price with 18 points. Banuelos chipped in 17 points and Judah Robinson also got into double digits with 13 points for Del Norte.
Braden Glavich and Austin Maples led the way for Eureka with 10 points apiece.
The win brings an end to the regular season with Del Norte sitting at 13-7 overall, and 4-4 in the HDN Big 5 this season. The Warriors came into the game tied for second place with McKinleyville in the league standings, but with the win and a Panther loss in Fortuna on Friday Del Norte has secured sole possession of second place.
“It means we get another home game, that is the important thing,” Lopez said. “We get to play at home again. Hopefully we will have a good crowd come to watch us next week and now we get to play until we lose. So we have to get ready to go.”
The Warriors will be back at home Tuesday as it kicks off the postseason in the Nikolai Tournament at the No. 2 seed from the Big 5. Del Norte will host the Big 5’s No. 3 seed, which will be either McKinleyville or Arcata. The Panthers and Tigers will compete in a play in game on Monday to decide the Big 5’s third-seed.
“Hopefully we will take care of our home court, whoever we play,” Lopez said. “Then we will just let the chips fall where they fall. Our goal is to make sure that we get the win at home.”
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .