The Eureka girls got the better of McKinleyville 58-31 in their opening Dick Niclai Memorial Tournament matchup on Monday night, advancing to play St. Bernard’s in Wednesday’s semifinal.
The Hoopa Valley girls also advanced, taking care of business at home to Ferndale by a score of 59-36.
In boys action, the McKinleyville boys remained hot and got the better of close rivals Arcata in a tournament play-in game by a score of 70-56.
The Panthers advance to play at Del Norte on Tuesday.
McKinleyville 31, Eureka 58
Not this time around.
After getting upset by McKinleyville in their own gymnasium two weeks ago, the Loggers made no mistake this time, running out to a comfortable win.
Makaila Napoleon scored a game-high 18 points. for Eureka, which improved to 18-8.
The in-form Kellina Pratton also had a big game, finishing with nine points on three 3-pointers, while Sophia Chalmers added seven points.
And after a poor night shooting the ball the last time against McKinleyville, the home team fared far better on Monday.
“We were patient. We passed the ball well,” Eureka head coach Michael Harvey said. “A couple of times the shot clock almost ran out, we were that patient. Unlike the last time against McKinleyville.”
The Loggers took control of the contest early, outscoring the Panthers 18-2 in the opening quarter, while holding them to just eight first-half points.
The home team led 45-15 after three quarters.
“The effort was spectacular tonight,” Harvey said.
Theresa Dickey paced the Panthers with 11 points.
With the win, the Loggers move on to play Little 4 champions St Bernard’s on Wednesday.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge,” Harvey said. “Coach (Mark) Gardner will have his players ready.”
The two teams met late last month at St. Bernard’s, with Eureka winning 66-53.
“We’re hoping for a big Eureka crowd,” Harvey said. “A big crowd really makes a difference.”
Ferndale 36, Hoopa Valley 59
The Warriors comfortably advanced to the Niclai semifinals with a third win over Ferndale in a little more than three weeks.
The dynamic Beyonce Bussell led the way for the Warriors with 20 points, while senior Alexia Jackson finished with 11 points.
With the win, the Warriors improved to 8-14, while the Wildcats dropped to 10-12.
The Warriors picked up their defensive intensity after the interval, overwhelming the visitors with their pressure.
The Warriors will now play at Big 5 champions Del Norte on Wednesday, which will be a difficult challenge for the Little 4 program.
The high-flying Del Norte girls are the No. 2 ranked Division-IV team in the state with a record of 19-2.
Del Norte defeated Hoopa 46-18 earlier in the season, and while Hoopa head coach Floyd Billings admits his team will have their hands full, he feels they are better equipped this time around.
“We’re not the same team,” he said. “We’re executing more, our defense has picked up. They’re going to see a different team.”
McKinleyville 70, Arcata 56
There’s something to be said for peaking at the right time.
On Monday night, the Panthers got the better of their close rivals with a 14-point win, claiming the third spot from the Big 5 for this year’s Niclai tournament.
They did it with their second win over Arcata in a little over two weeks, as they continued to roll with a sixth win in seven games.
The Panthers’ only blemish in that run was at Fortuna last Friday, and even then they scored a remarkable 85 points in the loss.
Jake White and AJ Stubbs each led a balanced team performance for Mack with 15 points each, while Isaac Puzz finished with 14 points.
Thomas Locatelli also had a big night and finished with eight points, while Craig Peterson and Theo Wade each had seven points.
With the win, the in-form Panthers improved to 13-11, while Arcata dropped to 9-15.
Garrett Hall scored a game-high 26 points for the Tigers, while Hunter Santsche finished with 10 points and Mason Railsback eight.
The Panthers will play at Del Norte on Tuesday night.
Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.