After winning its first four games of the season, including capturing a third consecutive Yreka Miner Blast championship over the weekend, the Del Norte girls’ varsity basketball team got brought back down to Earth in what was its fourth game in six days, as the Warriors fell 57-52 to the Hidden Valley Mustangs on non-conference action at Thunen Gymnasium Tuesday evening.
Depending on perspective, the game began as a defensive standoff or an off night offensively for both teams, as a combination of turnovers and missed shot that had been virtually automatic through the first four games of the season, put the Warriors in an early hole. Despite the inefficiency at best offensively in the early going, the Warriors were able to stay in the game via a defense that forced a number of Mustangs turnovers and prevented the visiting team from getting into any sort of rhythm in their own right.
The sluggishness at the offensive end carried over into the second quarter for the home team, while the visiting Mustangs began to find themselves. Those two components led to the Warriors facing their largest deficit of the early season, trailing 18-8 midway into the second quarter before things began to turn around.
That turnaround was sparked by continued defense intensity, but it was suddenly being complemented by execution at the offensive end of the court, mostly in the form of transition layups created by forced turnovers. Junior guard Jadence Clifton singlehandedly went on a 9-0 run in the late stages of the second quarter, enabling the Warriors to cut what had been a 10-point deficit down to 21-19 at intermission, allowing the home team to carry some semblance of momentum into the locker room at halftime.
That momentum would be short lived though, as the Mustangs re-established themselves on both ends of the court to begin the third quarter, forcing turnovers and giving the Warriors few to zero quality looks at the basket. As a result, the Mustangs were able to extend their advantage back to 10 at 34-24 late in the third quarter and eventually 40-31 heading into the final quarter.
Although the Warriors were able to keep the deficit manageable throughout the final quarter and had several opportunities to slice the margin below five, that would be as close as the home team would get for the remainder of the evening.
Clifton led all scorers with a game-high 32 points, while Olivia Stilwell and Kirsten Brous added six and five points respectively. The Warriors now hit the road for a stretch of what will be three games in three nights, beginning Wednesday when they travel to Redding to take on University Prep. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30.