The Fortuna Huskies believe in themselves, and now they’re making others believe in them too.
An impressive Huskies team improved to 2-0 in Big 5 boys basketball with a second conference road win in three days on Friday night, defeating the Loggers 86-79 in overtime at Eureka High.
“These boys believe in what we’re doing,” head coach Tony Miles said. “They believe in what they do, and they believe in their teammates. And that showed tonight. They were unselfish.”
It was certainly a balanced team performance with five Fortuna players scoring in double digits, and that’s the way it’s been all year for the Huskies with numerous different players stepping up at different times.
“There are a lot of teams like that (in the Big 5),” Miles said. “There’s not one dominant player on a team. Eureka’s like that. Arcata’s like that … It’s good for the league.”
Friday’s win leaves the Huskies (8-9 overall) alone atop the Big 5 standings, and while Del Norte and Arcata are each also unbeaten at 1-0, it’s an impressive start for the two-time defending league champions, who have not lost a league game since early 2018.
Playing as a team
It also shows that this year’s Fortuna team will be competitive in conference play despite replacing all five starters from a year ago.
And typical for a Miles coached team, they are playing as a team.
“Our heart, our hustle, that’s what I think (the difference) was,” Miles said after Friday’s win. “And we took care of the ball better today, and down the stretch we made some free throws.”
The Huskies certainly did, nailing 11 of 12 from the line in overtime, and 26 of 39 for the night.
Jaden Kelley was instrumental in the win in what was a thrilling game, finishing with a game-high 26 points and going 7 for 8 from the line in overtime.
Fernando Atilano added 15 points, while Angel Ornelas finished with 13 and made some big baskets down the stretch.
Bo Cox also had a big night with 11 points, as did Chaz Schlesiger, who had a big impact off the bench for the second straight game.
Branson Gans and Matt Berti each scored four points in the win, with the latter also making a big impact on defense.
“His defense was great tonight,” Miles said of Berti “We had him on some shooters.”
The loss was disappointing for the Loggers in more ways than one, and a team that came into the Big 5 with realistic ambitions of winning it has now lost two straight at home to open and continues to display a lack of composure.
“18 missed layups, 17 turnovers and a bunch of bad energy,” head coach Robbie Thompson said. “We lead the league in techs.”
To their credit the Loggers did battle back from a 13-point deficit late in the third quarter to force the overtime, but they were unable to carry that momentum into the extra period.
Jaeden Thayer led Eureka with 19 points, while Cahliel Garner added 18 points and Jackson Giacone 16, including four 3-pointers.
Miles Meynell also had a big game with 12 points, while Trevor Bell added five points, as did Grant Barrera.
The Loggers, who are 10-6 overall, hit just 11 of 23 free throws.
The Huskies will play at St. Bernard’s on Monday, before hosting Del Norte in a key Big 5 showdown on Wednesday, in what will be their first home game of the season.
The Loggers play at Ferndale on Monday before resuming league play at Arcata on Wednesday.
In JV action on Friday, Eureka defeated Fortuna 90-54, scoring more than 20 points in all four quarters.
Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.