The Humboldt-Del Norte League went a disappointing 0-2 in North Coast Section championship games on Friday night, as both the Fortuna boys and Del Norte girls lost to the top seed in their respective brackets.
The Huskies saw their challenge fade in the second half, as Branson pulled away for a comfortable 63-43 win at College of Marin.
The Del Norte girls, on the other hand, saw a dramatic second-half rally fall just short in a 66-62 loss to St. Patrick-St. Vincent art Benicia High.
It was always going to be a difficult challenge for both H-DNL squads.
The Branson boys are the No. 1 ranked Division-IV team in the state, while the St. Patrick-St. Vincent girls are ranked No. 2.
The Fortuna boys led by two at halftime, but failed to score a field goal for the opening 10 minutes of the second half, and by then they trailed by 21 points.
Viktor Rajkovic led the Bears with a game-high 32 points.
Bradley Willis paced the Huskies offensively with 15 points, while Drew Gillette scored 10, Donald Willis nine and Zac Claus seven.
The loss was just the second all season for the Huskies, who will go on to next week’s NorCal tournament regardless.
The NCS championship was the 11th for Branson, including their third straight.
The Bears, who outscored the Huskies 39-17 in the second half, have now won 26 straight games.
The NCS championship appearance was the first ever for the Fortuna boys, who lost for the first time in 17 games.
The Del Norte girls were also making their first NCS championship appearance, and made a game of it against the top-seeded Bruins.
The Warriors trailed by six after the opening quarter, and saw the deficit stretch to as many as 16 at the end of the third quarter.
The Del Norte girls, who had lost just twice all season, made things interesting late, however, when senior Shelby Horner came off the bench and nailed a 3-pointer with a minute to go to cut the deficit to just five.
A Bella Stone basket cut the deficit to four with 30 seconds remaining, but that was as close as the Del Norte girls could get.
Kaleya Sanchez scored 32 points for Del Norte.
More to follow on both games …
Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.