Fortuna Huskies one and done in NCS basketball playoffs; Huskies wrestlers compete well at NCS meet

Mark Lourenzo

Beacon Correspondent

The No. 6 Fortuna Huskies boys basketball team fell in the opening round of the North Coast Section, Division 4 playoffs to local rival McKinleyville. The Huskies had a breakthrough season, securing a league title as co-champions with huge wins over the rival Arcata Tigers during the campaign. Many expected the Huskies to make some noise in these NCS playoffs, but this time of year, one cannot afford to have an off night. That is exactly what Fortuna experienced when they fell to the Panthers on Feb. 20 with a final score of 58-49. The Lady Huskies also were out of the NCS postseason after their 44-33 loss at Justin Sienna that same night.

The McKinleyville Panthers brought forth a complete game effort when they faced the Fortuna Huskies in the opening round of the section playoffs. The No. 11 seeded Panthers played third fiddle most of the season to the top two teams of the Big 5, the Tigers and Huskies. Still the message was sent back in the Nicali Tournament when the Panthers came so close to knocking off the Tigers, who in turn went on to win the title. In last week's NCS game, the Panthers utilized an active 2-3 defense much like the Ferndale Wildcats had done when they came close to upsetting the Huskies in the Niclai semifinals. The Panthers were able to steal the momentum from the host Huskies, get an early lead, hold off the Husky comeback attempts, then secure the win.

Nate Ambrosini led Fortuna with 15 points, with Daniel Teasley adding 13 points. Ryan Gilroy chipped in 10 points and point guard Justin Claus scored 9 points with his array of assists. Perhaps it was the overtime tough loss to Arcata in the Niclai Tournament championship game, but the Huskies just did not have the usual intensity. "They know us as well as we know them, but they came out to play and we didn't " explained Fortuna head coach Joe Rice after the disappointing loss. "We were trying to attack them, but they were one step ahead of us, we are disappointed of course, but we are also proud of what we have done this season."

Losing on the road the same evening was the No. 9 seeded Fortuna Lady Huskies basketball team. A long road trip to take on the 22-6, No. 8 seed Justin Sienna was too much for the Huskies. Fortuna takes pride in their team defense but ran into a team that could also play the tough defense as the Braves held Fortuna to their lowest point total of the season with a final score of 44-33. Fortuna overcame some adversity this season as they lost their head coach Mackey McCullough in January. His daughter, interim head coach Janelle Jones, took over and did a stellar job during tough times. The Huskies played well down the stretch, getting one big win over Eureka in the Niclai Tournament, then missing out on the tournament title by a single point, losing to the Tigers, 42-41.

Fortuna Huskies wrestlers compete at NCS meet

Fortuna High wrestlers Andrew Widdoes (138 pounds), Dallas Letterman (152 pounds) and Tyler Graham (182 pounds) traveled to Fremont last week to compete in the North Coast Sections wrestling championships. The tournament touted 40 wrestlers in each weight class from all across Northern California, only the top four in each division would go on the California State Meet in Bakersfield this coming weekend. Both Widdoes and Letterman as well as five other H-DN wrestlers made it through the tough first day of eliminations on Friday. Husky senior Tyler Graham finished the weekend going 1-2 to close out his fine season. Andrew Widdoes went 2-2 over the weekend and Letterman advanced the furthest going a solid 4-2 over the weekend meet. Though none of the Huskies moved on to the state meet, it proved to be a valuable experience and both Widdoes and Letterman will be back next season to lead the Husky wrestling team.