The Del Norte girls basketball team started out hot and never let up on Wednesday in the Niclai Tournament semifinal against Hoopa. The Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 champion Warriors continued to add onto its lead throughout the game, reaching a 40-point advantage midway through the fourth quarter to trigger the continuous clock. Del Norte wrapped up the night with a 63-21 victory to advance to Friday’s Niclai championship game against Eureka.

“I’m just glad to get through it and no one got hurt, it was just one of those games. I’m not a huge Nicali Tournament fan, so I’m glad we got through it,” said Del Norte head coach Justin Clifton. “The good thing is that we get to play Eukreka again on Friday and go from there. Hopefully our boys can pull one out tomorrow and both teams can go down there and get a championship.”

Del Norte shook up its regular lineup at the beginning of the game, giving four of its bench players a chance to make the start.

“I was letting girls start that hadn’t started yet this year, just to get their names announced in front of the home crowd and everything,” Clifton said. “They deserved it. It is nothing against Hoopa, I didn’t care who we were playing, they were starting. That was the way that it was.”

Hoopa took its only lead of the game with a three pointer less than a minute into the first quarter and Del Norte brought its regular starters back into the game about 30 seconds later.

The Warriors took off from there.

Bella Stone immediately knocked down a three pointer from the wing after the regular starters came into the game, and Kirsten Brous got to the basket for a layup in transition on Del Norte’s next possession to kick off a 21-4 run to end the first quarter, followed by an 11-3 run to start the second quarter. The Warriors held a comfortable 34-13 lead at halftime.

The onslaught continued after halftime as Del Norte opened up the second half on a 13-0 run to push its lead up to 33 points.

Del Norte’s lead finally hit 40 points on an offensive rebound and a put back by senior Kaleya Sanchez with 3:42 left in the game, triggering a continuous clock.

Sanchez lead eight Del Norte scorers with 23 points. Stone finished with 14 points, while Jadence Clifton scored 9.

Brouse and Selene Ledezma both chipped in 5 points apiece.

Aleesha Lenover continued her strong defensive play this season, drawing two more charges against Hoopa to bring her season total up to 15.

“The girls all played well,” Clifton said. “We added some newcomers to the team from the JV and we were able to get everybody in, and get some of those jitters out.”

With the win Del Norte improves to 21-2 overall this season as it heads into Friday’s Nicali Tournament championship game against Eureka, scheduled to take place at Humboldt State University, tipping off at 6 p.m.

“We are looking forward to playing Eureka on Friday,” Clifton said. “It is really hard to beat somebody three times in one year — that’s the truth. We just have to do our best. The girls are pumped right now and we want to keep that number one seed to get a bye and home games. It would be nice to make the sections come through us. We have win on Friday though.”

Del Norte went 2-0 against the Loggers during the regular season with a 48-21 victory in Crescent City on Jan. 16 and a 63-53 road win in Eureka in the regular season finale last Thursday.

“They are going to be super hungry — they want to beat us,” Clifton said. “It is embarrassing when you are a bigger school to lose against a smaller school. So they are going to be hungry, and we expect a great game. We get to play on Humboldt State’s court, so it will be fun.”

Reach Michael Zogg at mfzogg@triplicate.com .

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