When the Laytonville girls and boys basketball teams line up in their respective North Coast Section championship games Saturday night, they have a chance at making double history.
Check that. The Warriors have had an historic season. A couple of times over, in fact.
Never before have all three Laytonville teams — the girls varsity, boys varsity and boys junior varsity (there is no girls JV team) — gone undefeated in North Central League III play. There’s more. A check of North Coast Section records shows that since 2003, no Laytonville girls or boys team has won a section title. In fact, in that same span, no Warriors girls or boys team has ever made it to the championship game.
That ends this weekend. On Saturday, both squads will take to the court to play for the NCS Division 6 banner.
“It’s all come together,” Laytonville High athletic director Sue Carberry said.
And it’s bringing the community together, too, school officials said.
“We played a doubleheader the other night and the gym was as crowded as I’ve ever seen it. I saw real excitement from the community,” Carberry said. “A lot of our community has gone to school here, played here. They follow it.”
Principal Tim Henry said he gets stopped in the aisle at the grocery store.
“They are asking, ‘How did the game go last night?’” he said.
His usual answer? Pretty darned well.
The boys team is 25-4 overall and went 14-0 in league. They nabbed the No. 1 seed in the NCS tournament and — regardless of how it goes Saturday — are moving on to the NorCal regional tournament.
The girls are 24-3 overall and 14-0 in league and got the No. 2 seed. They, too, are going to NorCals.
Warriors basketball is the only game in town right now, literally. Not counting the Mock Trial team, basketball is the only sport the small school can support during the winter season, Henry said.
“It’s quality over quantity,” he said. “We’re a small school, even for our league.”
State statistics show Laytonville had 120 students last school year. Henry said this year’s enrollment is closer to 104.
Of the eight schools in the North Central III League, only Round Valley and Potter Valley have smaller enrollments. So when I asked Henry if the rest of the student body feels the excitement of the double playoff run, there was a small chuckle.
“There are 104 students, right? The kids feel it,” he said.
A look at the Warriors’ rosters and some quick math tell me that 17 percent of the Laytonville students play varsity basketball. So yeah, they’re feeling it.
“The whole town comes out,” girls coach Corey James said. “We are one big, happy family.”
When James says family, he means it. He has two daughters, sophomore guard Mercrea and and freshman guard Akeela, who suit up for the Warriors. Boys coach Josh Firks? His brother Joel coaches the JV team.
And the two head coaches have known each other since preschool and both played on league-champion Warriors teams in 1989 and 1990.
“That was the first time Laytonville had won in forever and we were pretty proud of that,” Firks said.