For the most part, the winter sports season is over at area high schools, with spring sports such as baseball, softball and track just around the corner. For the most part.
As the Tribune goes to press on Wednesday night, both the boys and girls basketball teams are taking to the court for the first game of the North Coast Section (NCS) division playoffs, a four-round elimination tournament that pits the 16 seeded teams against one another to determine the regional championship.
The Redwood League’s girls basketball season came to an end with Healdsburg’s Lady Hounds taking the pennant with an 11-1 record, as reported last week, for the first time since 2004. They followed that up with a 34-30 victory over Windsor on Feb. 10 in a two-game Redwood League tournament, thereby sealing the first-place finish.
Coach Steve Zichichi threw cold water on the importance of post-season play. “The league tournament has no purpose. Even if we had lost, we would still hold the title of league champion,” said Zichichi. He recalled that four years ago, the Lady Hounds finished fourth in the league but won the post-season playoffs, beating Rancho Cotate and Maria Carrillo—both of whom had defeated the Hounds in regular season play.
This year’s girls, who finished the season 22-4, are seeded No. 6 in the NCS division playoffs, and meet ninth-seeded Lick-Wilmerding of San Francisco (14-12) at home in Healdsburg. The winner will meet the No. 1 seed, Piedmont, on Saturday, Feb. 18.
In boys basketball, the Hounds ended up in second place in the Redwood League, their 5-3 record behind only Ukiah’s 8-0. It might have been a bit different if Healdsburg had been able to hold on to the 29-9 halftime lead in the Feb. 3 game, but Ukiah dug deep to reverse the tables in the second half and win 48-46.
That game put the Greyhounds into the Feb. 8 league tournament round against third-place finisher Rancho Cotate. It was a close game throughout, with Rancho holding to the slimmest of leads following their 18-17 halftime score. Healdsburg pulled even a couple times, but the steady efforts of top scorers Sam Vanden Heuvel and Rob Hubbell weren’t enough to get the win in the 48-45 final score.
The boys basketball team ended the season with a winning 15-11 overall, good enough for a seed in the NCS tournament. The No. 9 seeded boys played No. 8 Fortuna (17-10) in Humboldt County on Wednesday night, results too late for press time. The winner will play No. 1 seed University High on Feb. 18.
A similar situation prevails in the high school soccer leagues, where once again the Division 4 Greyhounds find themselves competing in the NCS playoffs.
For the boys, a see-saw season saw the soccer squad win some, lose some, and tie twice to finish fourth in their league. On Feb. 10, they played their final home match against Elsie Allen, 0-14 on the year, and came away with a 4-0 win.
The division playoff picture finds them seeded a surprisingly strong fifth, and facing 12th seeded Marin Catholic at Healdsburg on Wednesday of this week.
The Greyhound girls held their own on the pitch, going 11-5-1 on the year, up until their final game Feb. 9. Their 4-5 league record however was disappointing for a team that started out seemingly unbeatable, racking up big wins against Cloverdale (8-0) and St. Vincent (6-0), before they found themselves on the other end of a 10-0 score against Ukiah on Jan. 11.
They tied Piner 2-2 in their last season game on Feb. 9, and ended up seeded 15 in the division. Their first playoff foe will be San Francisco’s Urban High, seeded seventh, on Feb. 15.
The sports teams on the high school athletics schedule for the spring season are beginning to hold practices, conditioning and even some “skirmishes.” Most competitive games or matches begin the first week of March.
Healdsburg High’s spring sports are badminton, boys baseball, boys golf, girls softball, swimming, boys tennis, and track and field.