Warriors Defeat Panthers in Back-to-Back Victories

Hoopa Warrior Tule O’Rourke slips past Panther Garrett Nickols and heads for the basket during the last non-league game of the season on Tuesday, January 7. / Photo by Kristan Korns, Two Rivers Tribune

Hoopa’s JV and Varsity Warriors won twin victories over the McKinleyville Panthers on Tuesday, January 7, sending both teams into league play on Friday with a fresh ‘Big 5’ win.


The Warriors Varsity basketball team came into Tuesday’s game with a 9-4 record and with two tournament wins – Colusa and Mt. Shasta – this season, but they were still wary.

Tony McClure, Hoopa Varsity boy’s basketball coach, said, “Against the big schools you have to really bring it. If you slouch at all, they’ll win.”

Hoopa starters Tahn Blake, Tule O’Rourke, Logan Ferris, Dakota Mosier, Milton Stewart and the rest of the Warriors were there to bring it.

O’Rourke put the first points on the board and the battle was on. The Warriors managed to hold their own and stay comfortably ahead for most of the first and second quarters.

With five seconds left in the first half, McKinleyville’s Bryan Guyer sank a three-pointer, putting the Panthers within a point of their rivals with 33 to the Warriors’ 34 going into halftime.

After halftime, the Panthers came back with everything they had, holding back Hoopa’s offense, with just one successful layup from Stewart, and two from O’Rourke, out of nearly a dozen attempts.

With the Warriors down by five points, McClure pulled the team aside and said, “They’re outplaying us in our own gym. Be tough.”

Hoopa’s Varsity team came back from behind in the fourth quarter with a vengeance, holding back the Panthers’ defense and pushing on their offense until they broke.

The hometown crowd clapped and stomped as their team pulled ahead and widened their lead.

The Varsity Warriors defeated the McKinleyville Panthers 67-58, and head into their first league game on Friday against St. Bernard’s with a 10-4 record for the season.

Stewart said, “We had the crowd here. We knew we were going to come back.”

JV Hoopa Warrior Gary Juan takes a shot early in the game against the McKinleyville Panthers. / Photo by Kristan Korns, Two Rivers Tribune


The JV Warriors went into Tuesday night’s game with a 5-7 record and two tournament losses to McKinleyville this season, but Rico Tello, Hoopa JV boy’s basketball coach, wasn’t worried.

Tello pointed to Nah Tes Jackson before the game. “If he has a good game tonight, we’ll probably win.”

Jackson and all of his teammates had a great game. The cheers from the hometown crowd seemed to help energize the team and pushed them to kick it up a notch.

Seconds into the game, Jackson charged across the court and sank a jump shot while surrounded by a cluster of four Panthers.

McKinleyville tried and failed to score, and Warrior Jarod Fullerton threw a three-pointer a few moments later, bringing the score to 5-0 less than a minute into the game.

Panthers Daniel LaBelle and Carlo Schmidt put points on the board for briefly giving them the lead, but another three-pointer from Fullerton tied the score at 8-8 with two minutes left in the quarter.

A long-range shot from Jackson and then a basket from Warrior Gary Juan pushed Hoopa back into the lead, ending the first quarter up 13-8.

The game’s second quarter started and ended with impressive plays from the Warriors.

Jackson threw a three-pointer moments into play, and Juan snatched the ball and charged the length of the court trailed by a pack of Panthers to do a layup with just seconds remaining in the half.

McKinleyville came back from halftime behind by six points and determined to even the score.

Panther Keegan Barsuglia sank two shots in a row, followed by a basket from LaBelle, tying the board 20-20.

McKinleyville’s onslaught continued for most of the third quarter, with only a free throw from Warrior Damien Trunkey and a three-pointer from Hoopa’s Stoney McCoy in response.

The Warriors went into the final quarter of the game behind by two points, and struggling to catch up. The lead see-sawed back-and-forth six or seven times in the last minutes of the game.

With two minutes left in the game, Hoopa was behind by one until Trunkey sank a shot and put the Warriors ahead 31-30. Twenty seconds later, the Panthers were ahead by one again.

In the last minute of the game, four free throws and a layup from Jackson put the Warriors undeniably ahead; ending with a 37-32 victory for Hoopa’s JV team.

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