After earning a bye in the opening round of the Dick Niclai Postseason Tournament by virtue of having won a Big Five Conference regular season title, the Del Norte boys’ varsity basketball returned to the Thunen Gymnasium court and defeated the Ferndale Wildcats 54-31 Wednesday evening.
With the victory, the Warriors advance to the Dick Niclai Tournament championship game, where they will face the Arcata Tigers Friday evening in a game to be played at Lumberjack Arena on the campus of Humboldt State University in what will be the third meeting of the season between the two schools. Tip-off for Friday’s contest is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors wasted little time getting going against the Wildcats, using a 16-1 first quarter run to ultimately take a 22-7 lead after one quarter. The home team connected on nine of its 11 shots from the floor in the first eight minutes of action, while the Wildcats managed just a two-of-seven clip and committed six turnovers.
The Wildcats didn’t roll over and go away though, as the visiting team began chipping away at its deficit in the early stages of the second quarter, cutting the lead down to 26-16 before the Warriors once again stepped on the proverbial gas pedal and put a virtual end to any thoughts of a complete comeback from the visiting team. The end result was a Warrior 15-0 run to close the half, as the home team took a commanding 41-16 lead into the locker room at intermission.
Kaleb Price scored 10 of his game-high 13 points in the opening half to lead three Warriors in double figures on the night. Omar Banuelos scored all 11 of his points in the first half, including three 3-point field goals, while Damian Dowd added his own 10 points in the first two quarters.
With the home team well in control at the halftime break, the Warrior coaching staff emptied its bench to begin the second half and allowed the second unit to get some game experience and valuable minutes with little to zero pressure on them.
Although the Warriors defensive focus and intensity did not falter one iota, the home team held the Wildcats to just four points on one-of-12 shooting from the field in the third quarter, the Warrior offense that had been so precise and so on fire throughout the first two quarters suddenly couldn’t find itself in the third frame. The Warriors shot just two-of-12 from the floor in the third quarter themselves.
All told the two teams combined for exactly nine points in the third quarter, but yet the Warriors were able to increase their lead to 46-20 heading into the final period.
Things didn’t get much cleaner or efficient for either team in the final quarter, as just 19 points were scored by the two teams. Virtually everyone who saw action found the scoring column for the Warriors in the victory, with Edwin Zepeda scoring six fourth quarter points to lead the reserves offensively.