Del Norte and South Fork each exploded offensively in the second half on the way to winning their games in the Dick Niclai Memorial Tournament on Tuesday night.
South Fork scored 49 points after the interval on the way to a 74-67 win over St. Bernard’s, the Cubs’ second victory over the Crusaders this season.
Del Norte, meanwhile, outscored visiting McKinleyville 37-14 in the second half on the way to a 76-47 win, the Warriors’ second straight victory after a late-season three-game losing skid.
St. Bernard’s 67, South Fork 74
The Cubs overcame a five-point halftime deficit with a big second half to advance to the Niclai semifinals for the first time since 2006.
South Fork was led by sophomore Riley Gallagher, one of this week’s Humboldt Sports Athletes of the Week.
The sophomore standout continued his impressive season with a team-high 25 points, including five of his team’s 10 3-pointers.
The Cubs took control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring the visitors 28-11 and turning a five-point deficit into a 12-point lead.
The ever-reliable Cody Wyatt and CJ Van Meter each also had big games for the Cubs, who improved to 12-12 on the season and will now play at Big 5 champion Fortuna in one of Thursday’s tournament semifinals.
Wyatt finished with 16 points and Van Meter 13.
The win was the third straight for the Cubs, who will carry plenty of momentum into next week’s North Coast Section playoffs regardless of Thursday’s result.
Lane Thrap continued his impressive season for the Crusaders, who dropped to 11-12.
Thrap scored a game-high 34 points, including 22 in the second half alone, and had three 3-pointers.
Justin Hagler enjoyed one of his best performances of the season with 13 points, while Logan Simoni finished with nine points.
“Justin Hagler is really coming along and finishing the season out strong,” St. Bernard’s head coach Steve Thrap said.
South Fork drained 17 of 23 free throws, while the visitors managed just 9 of 23.
Jayden Paine also came up with some big steals late in the game to help seal the win.
McKinleyville 47, Del Norte 76
The Warriors seem to have overcome their late-season slump just in time.
After dropping three straight games, Del Norte recovered to beat Eureka in the regular season finale on Friday and followed that with a dominating display on Tuesday to advance to the Niclai semifinals.
The Warriors will now travel to Hoopa Valley on Thursday to play the high-octane Little 4 champs in what could be one of the games of the tournament between two of the top three teams in the H-DNL.
Ethan Price paced the Warriors offensively in Tuesday’s game, finishing with 23 points, while Nolan O’Kelly had 21 points and Judah Robinson 16.
The Warriors led by just six at halftime after being outscored by two in the second quarter, but quickly pulled away after the break.
The home team outscored the visitors 25-6 in the third quarter and held McKinleyville to single digits in scoring in both the third and fourth quarters.
With the win, the Warriors improve to 14-7, while the Panthers are now 13-12.
AJ Stubbs led the Panthers offensively with 13 points, while Thomas Locatelli and Isaac Puzz each finished with 11 points.
Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.