The South Fork girls beat Hoopa Valley 51-50 Friday night in Miranda to even their Humboldt-Del Norte Little Four Conference record to 2-2. Despite Hoopa’s Lillie Jarnaghan’s 39 points it was junior guard Trisha Harrison’s ice-in-her-veins free throw shooting and intense defense by junior forwards Brianna Finney and Kayla Kercher that pulled out a victory for the Lady Cubs.
Jarnaghan was called for 3 fouls early in the game and sat out much of the second quarter. South Fork opened up a 20-15 half time lead behind an effective half court trap Hoopa struggled to get past on offense. But when Jarnaghan came back on the floor part way through the third period head coach Dave Bushnell adjusted and went to a man-to-man defense when he saw the trap was no longer working.
South Fork was up 36-30 despite Jarnaghan’s 13 points in the 3rd quarter, as Harrison had ideas of her own, getting 2 of her 3 field goals in the period and hitting each of 4 free throws. Hoopa struggled to maintain possession whenever the ball was not in Jarnaghan’s hands, while Finney and Kercher aggressively set the tone with countless steals and interceptions throughout the second half. Both had clutch field goals in final period, as did junior Kassie Humphrey as South Fork hung on for a slim lead. Harrison hit 4 more free throws in the fourth quarter as Hoopa was forced to foul to try to regain possession.
Jarnaghan answered with two 3-pointers and Hoopa pulled within a point. With just 4 seconds left Hoopa in-bounded under the South Fork basket and got the ball to Jarnaghan in the front court just in time for her to launch a potential game winning shot that bounced away off the rim, preserving the Cub victory.
"That was a fun game," said Bushnell, understating the nail-biting drama played out in the packed gymnasium. "We did a very good job. The free throw shooting was outstanding." Harrison had 21 total points, 13 of them from the charity stripe. Kercher had 12, Finney had 10 and Humphrey had 6 to lead the Cubs.
Hoopa -9 -6 -17 -18 --50
South Fork -13 -7 -16 -15 --51
Earlier in the week the Cubs fell to Big Five school Fortuna 64-35. South Fork held a 1-point lead at the end of the first quarter and looked capable of hanging with the big school until the Huskies’ Northern took control of the game in the second half, hitting three 3-pointers for 9 of her 17 second half points. Finney was top scorer for the Cubs with 9. Kercher, Humphrey and Willison had 8 points each and Harrison made a bucket.
Fortuna -12 -12 -21 -19 --64
South Fork -13 -4 -8 -10 --35
The Lady Cubs are now 14-9 on the season and at 2-2 in league are in second place behind undefeated Ferndale. They will travel to St. Bernard’s for a 7:30 tip-off on Friday. A win would clinch at least a tie for second in the league and a possible first round home game in the Niclai Championship Tournament.
PHOTO COURTESY OF MICHELLE BUSHNELL
Kayla Kercher makes a lay-up during the game against Hoopa.