The Del Norte Warriors made a statement at Eureka High on Wednesday night, as they tipped off their Big 5 campaign in style with a 64-47 win in boys basketball.
The visitors outscored the Loggers in each of the first three quarters to open up a 21-point lead late in the third and comfortably held on after that.
“I think we came out and matched their intensity early and were able to make some shots,” Del Norte head coach Marc Slayton said. “We have a lot of respect for that team. It’s a good basketball team, it really is. It was a tough physical ball game.”
It also was not Eureka’s most disciplined game of the season, and a disappointing start for a team that came in with very realistic title ambitions.
“I just thought we lost our composure,” Eureka head coach Robbie Thompson said. “It’s easy when everything is going your way, but when you get hit in the mouth …
“We want to win and lose with the same class. We’ll correct that.”
Both teams battled back and forth early on with little between them, and the Warriors held a slender two-point lead after the opening quarter.
The visitors did a good job handling the ball against the relentless Eureka press, and got balanced scoring throughout, instead of relying heavily on leading scorer Omar Banuelos.
Judson Pincombe paced the visitors in scoring with a game-high 21 points, and continues to establish himself as an ever-more integral part of this team.
The Warriors began to take control of the game in the second quarter, going on a 10-0 run at one stage to open up a nine-point gap, which they carried into halftime.
They got even stronger after the interval, pulling away midway through the third quarter with an 11-0 run on the way to opening up a 21-point gap.
There was no way back for the Loggers after that despite a hard-fought fourth.
“They executed, they made shots, they defended,” Thompson said of Del Norte. “We were out-coached, out-everything tonight.
“Hat’s off to them. They had a lot to do with that. They’re well coached and they played hard. We’ll go back to the drawing board and get ready for Fortuna on Friday.”
Banuelos continued to be influential for the visitors, finishing with 13 points, while Anthony Slayton added 10 points, Kaleb Price eight and Kobe Mitchell seven.
Guard Damian Dowd also continued to have an impact for the deep Warriors, playing a key role in keeping the Loggers at bay late in the game.
“Damian was good down the stretch controlling the tempo for us,” Marc Slayton said. “We got balanced scoring tonight, and that makes things so much easier.”
Sophomore Jackson Giacone continued to impress for the Loggers, finishing with a team-high 15 points while Jaeden Thayer added eight points, Cahliel Garner six and Grant Barerra and Miles Meynell five each.
The 12-1 Warriors will have a break from league play until next week, while the Loggers, who are 10-5 overall, will play at Fortuna on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Earlier on Wednesday night, the Del Norte JVs won an exciting clash over the Loggers 66-58.
Ray Hamill writes at humboldtsports.com, where you can read lots more about sports in Humboldt County.