The Del Norte girls basketball team pulled away from Gateway for a lopsided 70-22 victory in the first round of the North Coast Section Division IV girls basketball tournament on Wednesday.
Del Norte poured in 19 points in the first quarter, and Gateway didn’t eclipse that total until there were just over six minutes left in the game. Defensively, Del Norte allowed just one field goal in the entire second half.
“This game was about getting through it,” said Del Norte head coach Justin Clifton. “I’m proud of that Gateway team because they needed another team and they stepped up and put in for sections. They knew coming up here that they would probably get blown out because they are heavy with freshmen and sophomores on their team. They got the experience though.”
The Warriors turned the ball over a couple times in the early going, allowing Gateway to keep pace trailing just 6-4 through the first four minutes, but Del Norte started to pull away from the Gators midway through the first quarter.
“I think it was just the girls watching (Gateway) shoot around,” Clifton said. “You always play down to you competition is the bottom line.”
The Warriors put together a 9-0 run in the span of just 1:42 to turn a 6-4 lead into an 11 point advantage. Jadence Clifton started the run with a three pointer with 3:45 left in the opening period followed by a layup by Kaleya Sanchez, a layup by Clifton, and another layup by Sanchez on four straight Warrior possessions and Del Norte never looked back.
Gateway scored a basket to open the second quarter, briefly climbing back within single digits, but the Warriors took over from there.
Sanchez grabbed a rebound on a missed shot on Gateway’s next possession and went coast to coast for a layup to kick off a 13-0 run that put the Warriors ahead 32-11 with 2:36 left in the first half.
Del Norte stretched its lead as high as 24 points in the second quarter, and took a 38-17 point lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Warriors continued their onslaught with a big third quarter. Del Norte held Gateway without a field goal in the third period, as the Warriors outscored the Gators 22-2.
That gave Del Norte a huge 60-19 advantage heading into the fourth quarter, which was played with a continuous clock.
The Warriors went to their bench for the fourth quarter, getting all 13 players on the roster into the game, including a group of three sophomores and a freshmen that recently joined the Del Norte varsity for the postseason after spending the regular season on the JV.
“Our bench actually played really well tonight,” Clifton said. “We got everybody into the game, all 13 girls. We moved some girls up from the JV just to give them the experience. Not every school gets to move kids up and get to play deep into the postseason.”
With the win, Del Norte advances to the NCS quarterfinals, scheduled for Saturday, where they will host No. 7 Urban. Urban won their first round game 72-65 over No. 10 Fortuna on Wednesday.
“We are going to get after it in practice (Thursday) and Friday,” Clifton said. “We have to put some new stuff in. There is a lot of film out there — thanks you Youtube and Facebook. So we have to put some new stuff in and we will.”
Clifton said the Warriors will also brush up on their defense before the quarterfinals.
“We have to pick up our defense,” he said. “We take more charges than any team in our section, but we have to pick up on our perimeter defense, and our transition perimeter defense. We have some things that we need to work on, but we will be alright.”