The Del Norte boys’ varsity basketball team completed a perfect first half of its Big Five Conference schedule Wednesday evening with a 52-38 victory over the McKinleyville Panthers at McKinleyville High School.

In a game that was anything but lopsided, the Warriors held a slim 25-21 lead at intermission as the visiting team found itself in a battle against Panthers team that was winless in conference play heading into Wednesday’s contest.  The home team quickly erased the slim four-point halftime deficit and turned it into a four point advantage midway into the third quarter, creating more than a few anxious moments for the conference-leading Warriors.

The Panthers brief lead wouldn’t last long though, as Omar Banuelos scored seven of his game-high 24 points in the third quarter, five of those coming in a run that saw the Warriors turn what had been a deficit into a 35-33 lead heading into the final quarter.

That lead would be built upon in short order, as the Warriors suddenly found their rhythm and ran with it, literally.

While it was Banuelos who was a catalyst for the third quarter surge, the early part of the final eight minutes belonged to Judson Pincombe, who drained consecutive three pointers to help the Warriors extend a slim two point lead to eight at the midway point of the quarter.  Pincombe finished his evening with 11 points.

From there, the Warriors did not look back, putting the clamps on the Panthers at the defensive end of the floor while turning those defensive stops into quality looks at the basket on the offensive end.  The Warriors held the Panthers to just five points in the final period, while the blue and gold tallied 20 of their own during that decisive final stretch.

The Warriors begin the second half of their conference schedule Friday when they will play host to the Eureka Loggers at Thunen Gymnasium on what will be Sportscaster’s Club Night in addition to the unveiling of the 2020 Warrior Superfan, which will take place during halftime of the varsity contest.

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