Girls Niclai Tournament: Chalmers, Vigil clutch in semifinal win, Eureka to face Fortuna in championship game

Eureka downs St. Bernard's 46-41 in semifinal round, will face Fortuna in Niclai championship

Eureka celebrates after Thursday’s win. (Jose Quezada — HumSport)
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Without Sophia Chalmers, Friday’s game may very well have been over at halftime.

And without a special fourth quarter performance by Bella Vigil, Eureka’s Niclai hopes would have likely been done.

Chalmers scored 12 of the Loggers’ 18 first-half points, Bella Vigil scored 11 of her 13 in the fourth quarter to stave off a Crusaders’ comeback and the Eureka High girls basketball team secured a return trip to the Humboldt-Del Norte League Dick Niclai Tournament championship round with a 46-41 win over St. Bernard’s, Thursday night at Crusader Gymnasium.

Eureka (20-9) will face Big 5 Conference champion Fortuna (23-2) at 6 p.m. tonight in the tournament’s title game. Eureka lost both regular season meetings against Fortuna by scores of 52-45 and 50-41.

Eureka lost last season’s Niclai championship 58-42 to Del Norte.

“These girls know what it felt like to lose last season, and they know what it will take to win,” Eureka head coach Mike Harvey said.

Midway through Thursday’s game, the only thing working for Eureka was Chalmers.

The senior helped to erase an early 5-0 deficit with a pair of 3-pointers within the first 3:30 of the the opening quarter and finished the frame with eight points as both teams shared a 14-14 tie heading into the second.

St. Bernard’s (20-7) shuttered Eureka’s offense in the second quarter, keeping the Loggers without a field goal and to one point for nearly the whole of the quarter before Chalmers drained a 3-pointer with three seconds to play until the break.

St. Bernard’s led 24-18 at half, and Saulele Tanuvasa had a heavy hand in it.

The freshman scored 10 points in the first half and assisted on another two baskets. The Crusaders broke Eureka’s full-court press with ease, generating the majority of their first-half offense in transition and off of Eureka turnovers.

Harvey called off the press to start the third quarter and Eureka settled in defensively, holding the home team to nine points in the third quarter and eight in the fourth.

“(St. Bernard’s head coach Mark Gardner) did a good job reading our press and breaking it in the first half. They got a lot of 2-on-1 opportunities through it,” Harvey said. “In the second half we called off the press and got into our half-court defense and I thought we did a good job of it…We were able to double-team (Tanuvasa) and keep (the Crusaders) off the perimeter. (Tanuvasa) is a great player so to hold her to 17 points is a win for us.”

Eureka outscored St. Bernard’s 13-5 through the first 7:48 of the third quarter. Carly Boynton came alive and scored all nine of her points in the third as Eureka led 31-29 with 12 seconds to play in the frame.

Tanuvasa, in the final dozen seconds of the third, converted a layup, picked up a steal and scored again to send St. Bernard’s into the fourth with a 33-31 lead.

The fourth quarter belonged to Vigil. Eureka’s junior guard scored 11 points in the fourth. Vigil hit two 3-pointers and a free-throw in the first 2:30 of the frame, marking the final lead change of the night as Eureka led 38-35 after the junior’s second 3-ball.

With 4:27 to play St. Bernard’s forward Josie Peterson picked up a bucket plus a foul, which the senior converted for a game-tying 3-point play.

Chalmers answered with her fourth 3-pointer of the night, and Eureka held St. Bernard’s without a field goal for the remainder of regulation.

Turnovers and free-throws

The story of Thursday’s game cannot be told without a look at the turnovers and free-throw attempts by both teams.

Eureka committed 20 turnovers and St. Bernard’s, 21 including eight in the fourth. In the fourth quarter, before Peterson tied the game on her and-1 conversion, St. Bernard’s turned the ball over on six straight possessions and did not score a point for nearly three minutes.

At the line, Eureka enjoyed an enormous disparity in free-throw attempts. The Loggers made 14-of-26 at the charity stripe. St. Bernard’s had a third of the attempts, making 5-of-8 in the loss.

Eureka made 11 total field goals in the win while St. Bernard’s made 17.

Scoring recap

Eureka: Chalmers 15pts, Vigil 13pts, Boynton 9pts.

St. Bernard’s: Tanuvasa 17pts, Peterson 8pts, Shelby Jordan 5pts.

Up next

Eureka vs. Fortuna, 6 p.m. Lumberjack Arena.

St. Bernard’s – TBD.

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