Del Norte High School boys basketball picked up another title Friday night and will begin their march toward a CIF North Coast Section title on Wednesday, Feb. 19.
The Warriors finished off a perfect run, 8-0, to win the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5 league regular-season championship and backed it up by winning the Humboldt-Del Norte League Dick Niclai Tournament on Friday, Feb. 14, at Lumberjack Arena. DNHS (21-1) defeated Arcata 46-35 and claimed their fifth Niclai title.
Two days after winning the Niclai, Del Norte was seeded fifth in the North Coast Section Div. 4 boys basketball championships. The Warriors host 12th-seeded Middletown (14-11, 7-7 North Central I) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 18, in the tournament’s first round.
Del Norte’s only loss this season was on Dec. 6 to Grants Pass, 53-39.
Omar Banuelos led the Warriors in scoring with 19 points in the Niclai final. He scored 10 points in a pivotal third-quarter that saw Del Norte hold the Tigers to just six in the quarter.
Del Norte built an 11-4 lead before ending the first quarter with an 18-9 advantage. Six different Warriors scored in the first quarter. Both teams struggled to score in the second quarter. The Tigers held the Warriors to three points, but managed only seven and trailed 21-16 at the half.
Banuelos scored Del Norte’s first seven points of the third and the Warriors headed into the final quarter with a 38-22 lead.
Del Norte bumped its lead up to as much as 17 points, 43-26, after Anthony Slayton hit a 3-pointer and Damian Dowd converted a layup.
DNHS coach Marc Slayton is the first coach to win both a girls and boys Niclai championship. In 1998 Slayton led the Lady Warriors to the program’s first-ever Niclai title.
Division 4 Playoff Schedule (Wednesday all games at 7 p.m. unless noted): No. 9 Fort Bragg at No. 8 Eureka (5:30 p.m.); No. 12 Middletown at No. 5 Del Norte; No. 3 Saint Mary’s at No. 14 Roseland University Prep; No. 11 Ygnacio Valley at No. 6 Healdsburg. No. 1 Piedmont, bye.