After trailing by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, the Del Norte boys basketball team fought its way back into the game. The Warriors had five possessions in the final six minutes in which it had an opportunity to take the lead, but Del Norte just couldn’t complete the comeback, eventually falling 47-46, breaking tie for first place in the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5.

“We gave ourselves a chance, and we just didn’t get it done,” said Del Norte head coach Blaine Lopez. “We had a couple steals at the end, but we just weren’t able to get over the hump. The start of the third quarter killed us again.”

After getting out to a five-point lead in the first quarter, Del Norte trailed 12-11 after the first quarter and 27-21 at halftime.

Once again, the Warriors came out of halftime a little bit sluggishly, and McKinleyville pounced on the opportunity by pushing its lead to double digits at 33-23.

Omar Banuelos broke a five-minute scoring drought for the Warriors with 1:13 left in the third quarter with a corner three-pointer, and senior Mason Mitchell followed that up with a spin move in the lane to close the gap to 36-31 heading into the fourth quarter.

Del Norte used some tough defense to quickly pull within one possession in the fourth quarter. Senior Howard Soule blocked a Panther shot inside; Price tracked down the loose ball and quickly shot the ball up court to Mitchell for an easy layup.

Mitchell then picked up a steal and another easy layup on McKinleyville’s next possession to close within 36-35.

The Warriors had a total of five possessions in which they had a chance to retake the lead for the first time since the first quarter, but each time Del Norte’s shot was off the mark.

In fact, the Warriors struggled to hit open shots all night long, including a potential game winning three-pointer at the buzzer.

“Tonight we just couldn’t throw it in the ocean,” Lopez said. “We got wide open looks. You can’t argue with the shots that we got, we just couldn’t score.”

With the win, McKinleyville takes sole possession of first place in the Humboldt-Del Norte Big 5. Del Norte, at 4-3, drops back into second place.

“It is just disappointing because we had a chance to get it done at home and we didn’t. It’s a bummer,”

Lopez said. “I thought we played as hard as we can play, but we just missed shots and had a couple untimely defensive breakdowns. When you play against good teams, that will get you. I want to thank the fans for coming out and supporting the kids – they really do appreciate it.”

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