Ray Hamill/HumboldtSports.com – McKinleyville’s AJ Stubbs

The McKinleyville Panthers dropped their third straight game in the Big 5 at Del Norte on Thursday night, falling heavily, 68-39.

And while no one in the Panthers’ camp is giving up hope just yet, head coach Sonny Tripp and his players are desperate for answers.

“We’ve been starting slow, and digging a hole every first quarter,” the Mack coach said. “We had eight points again in the first quarter (on Thursday) and 18 by halftime, and we were never in the game.”

In fairness to the Panthers, their first two league losses to Arcata and Eureka came by a combined seven points, and Mack is not that far removed from a 2-1 record.

But slow starts have plagued the team, and that’s something the head coach says he’ll be taking a long look at before next week’s game against the high-flying Fortuna Huskies, one of the top-ranked teams in the North Coast Section.

“We might look at changing our starting lineup up a little bit,” Tripp said. 

The coach, however, says no one in his camp is losing hope.

“We’re not giving up yet,” he said. “We still feel we can turn it around.”

AJ Stubbs has been one of the bright spots in an otherwise disappointing run that has seen the team drop five straight games, including three conference losses in just six days.

Stubbs again led the way on Thursday night.

And the coach says the players are remaining upbeat despite the struggles,

“They’re not turning on each other, and no one’s pointing fingers at each other,” Tripp said. “But we do have to look at each other’s roles, and see what we can do to get a couple of wins.”


Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.