Hoopa Beats Eureka with Seconds to Spare

Hoopa Valley High School varsity basketball player Brandon Colegrove (right), prepared to sink a basket during a nail biter game on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, against Eureka. The Warriors defeated the Loggers 66-64. / Photo by Kristan Korns, Two Rivers Tribune

By KRISTAN KORNS, Two Rivers Tribune

In a David vs. Goliath battle that had the hometown fans stamping their feet and clapping their hands, the Hoopa Warriors defeated the Eureka Loggers in the last non-league game of the season on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013.

Hoopa Valley High School Varsity Basketball Coach Joe Marshall was cautiously optimistic before the game against the larger rival.

“Eureka’s a big team, a big school, and they have a lot of talent,” Marshall said. “For my team, we’ve been getting better and better every game and we have a lot of momentum on our side.”

The team demonstrated that momentum earlier in the season with a seven-game winning streak, followed by one loss, and then another three wins.

In Wednesday’s game, the Warriors started off slow, but picked up the pace as the game went on.

The first quarter ended with the Warriors down by seven points, 13-20. The gap closed slightly by the end of the second quarter, at 24-29, but it wasn’t until the third quarter that the Warriors started to show their real spirit and determination to win.

Hoopa Valley High School basketball player Andrew Sorrell jumped up to sink a two-pointer during the game against the Eureka Loggers in Hoopa on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013. / Photo by Kristan Korns, Two Rivers Tribune

They fought their way to a 29-29 tie before falling behind by 11 points, 33-44.

The crowd booed loudly at several referee calls in favor of Eureka that the KIDE radio announcers covering the game called “horrible,” and the Warriors seemingly doubled their efforts to win despite every obstacle.

Within less than two minutes, Brandon Colegrove scored five points, Tule O’Rourke scored three, and Logan Ferris scored two, ending the quarter behind by only seven at 43-50.

The Warriors carried that energy into the fourth quarter, and spurred on by the stomps, claps, and chants of the crowd, they kept up their relentless assault until the end of the game.

A two-pointer from Charlie Moon followed immediately by a three-pointer from Brandon Colegrove put Hoopa in the lead, 59-57. The Loggers took possession of the ball and scored a two-pointer, tying the score with just 2:19 left in the game.

The crowd went wild, with shouts of “Hoopa!” and “This is our house!” echoing off the walls, while the stands shook from stomping feet.

Eureka pulled ahead by two points, but with only 35.6 seconds left in the game, Tule Blake was fouled, and stepped up to make two free throws that tied the game at 64-64.

The Loggers took possession of the ball, but fouled the Warriors again with 4.5 seconds left.

You could feel the tension in the crowd as Milton Stewart stepped to the free throw line, and sank one after the other, bringing the score to 66-64. Seconds later, it was all over.

“You practice when you’re tired, and it’s easier in the game,” Stewart said. “We had home court advantage. The crowd helped a lot.”

Buck Risling, who turned 18 on Wednesday, congratulated his teammate and said, “This is the best birthday present ever.”

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