The 2020 calendar year continues to be unkind to the Del Norte varsity girls’ basketball team, as the Warriors dropped to 1-3 in Big Five Conference play with a 53-45 loss to the McKinleyville Panthers at Thunen Gymnasium Tuesday evening. All three of the Warriors conference losses have come at home.
Things looked positive for the home team early, as the Warriors jumped out to a quick 7-2 lead behind 3-point field goals from Olivia Stilwell and Kirsten Brous, sandwiched around a free throw from Aleesha Lenover. After the Panthers responded with a 6-0 run of their own to take an 8-7 lead, the Warriors closed out the opening quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 15-8 lead after one quarter.
Despite frigid shooting from the floor and a decided rebounding disadvantage, the Warriors were able to maintain their lead throughout the opening half due in large part to the Panthers own inability to get anything going offensively.
As a result, the Warriors carried a 27-22 lead into intermission, ultimately stretching that advantage to 33-22 early in the third quarter and seemingly giving themselves some cushion.
However, that is when the pendulum of momentum slowly began to swing in the opposite direction, as the Panthers cut the double-digit deficit to seven at the end of the third quarter and found themselves well within striking distance heading into the final period.
That is when the avalanche began, and the Warriors couldn’t recover. What had once been an 11-point advantage, was suddenly a 41-40 deficit early in the final period, as it was the Panthers who were clicking on both sides the half court line, while the home team was struggling to find any answers.
After a Gianna Taylor 3-point field goal cut the Panthers lead to 45-43 midway into the fourth period, that seemed to temporarily re-energize the home team, but that was short-lived as the Panthers answered with a 3-point field goal of their own to extend the lead back to five and all but ended any chances of a Warrior comeback.
When all was said and done, the Panthers outscored the Warriors 20-5 in the final quarter and 33-12 over the final 12:30 of the ballgame. Jadence Clifton led the Warriors with 15 points. Stilwell, Taylor, Lenover and Lily Wilson scored six points apiece, while Brous added five.