Del Norte’s Kaleya Sanchez gets past Eureka’s Dorshaela Wesson for a layup during Del Norte’s 58-42 win over Eureka in the championship game of the Dick Niclai Memorial Tournament, Friday night at Lumberjack Arena. (Andrew Butler — Times-Standard)

The Del Norte girls’ basketball team, after putting together the most successful regular season in program history, complete with the team’s first-ever Big 5 Conference championship, left a stamp on the Humboldt-Del Norte League which will not be soon removed by capturing its first Dick Niclai Memorial Tournament championship in over 20 years with a 58-42 win over the Eureka Loggers, Friday night at Lumberjack Arena.

“Tonight is exciting,” Del Norte head coach Justin Clifton said. “It’s been 20 years and the season is all about making history.”

Del Norte fell behind 4-2 early on Friday night but got up quick, putting together a  21-4 run that spanned from midway through the first quarter to halfway through the second. Del Norte’s Bella Stone found a quick pass to Kirsten Brous for a 3-pointer and a 7-4 score, which was also the start of Del Norte’s permanent lead. Eureka’s Makaila Napoleon picked up an early charge for the Loggers and had to sit frequently in the first half and throughout the game, which didn’t help the Loggers’ cause. With two minutes left in the first quarter, Del Norte’s Jadence Clifton nailed a 3-pointer and after Eureka lost its following possession, Clifton found the basket again for a layup. With three seconds left to play in the opening frame, Stone quickly shot from two feet in front of the half court line for a crowd-roaring buzzer beater and a 21-8 lead heading into the second quarter. Kaleya Sanchez had 10 points in the first quarter alone for the Warriors and a game-high 24 in the win.

“Del Norte’s pressure and physicality was big tonight,” Eureka head coach Mike Harvey said. “I think Makaila’s early second foul took us out of continuity a little bit.”

Del Norte continued to pick up its intense play as Stone was the first one to add two points in the second quarter. Eureka played a more defensive quarter as they kept Del Norte to only 11 points in the frame, but itself struggled to score. The Loggers didn’t make a field goal in the second quarter until more than five minutes had elapsed. However, the Loggers started to put things together offensively and with just a minute left in the quarter, Napoleon hit a 3-pointer to cut Del Norte’s lead to 28-19. Del Norte however closed out the quarter with four straight points to take a 32-18 lead into the break.

“They played really well,” said Clifton. “We’re a young team and the bench really stepped up tonight.”

Eureka never cut Del Norte’s lead to less than 10 points in the final half as Sanchez and Clifton provided a basket when needed. Clifton finished with 13 points in the win.

“We’ll digest this game and look at film,” Harvey said, “We’re looking for great things as we move on to sections.”

Eureka’s Makaila Napoleon finished with 16 points and Paige Lyons followed with 10.

“These girls play a lot of basketball,” Clifton said. “So we are going to play a lot of right-in-your-face basketball, and that’s what we did.”

Friday’s championship win captured the Warriors’ (21-2) first Niclai title since the 1997-98 season, and the program’s second all-time. For the Loggers (19-9), Friday’s loss counts as the third in as many attempts against the Warriors this season.

blog comments powered by Disqus