The longest running high school basketball tournament in Northern California was a rousing success following a one-year hiatus, as Healdsburg played host to seven other boys teams in the 72nd annual Redwood Empire Invitational Basketball Tournament (REIBT) on Dec. 8-11.  
The Greyhounds came up agonizingly short of defending their 2019 title, claiming wins over Middletown (57-46) and Ukiah (51-43) before falling to Justin Siena, 57-52 in the championship game.
For the first time ever all games were played on the HHS campus, split between Smith Robinson Gymnasium and the newly built East Gym, with boys and girls tournaments running simultaneously.   
The eight-team boys tournament featured Healdsburg, Justin Siena, Windsor, West County, San Rafael, Ukiah, Clear Lake and Middletown.
“This was one of the strongest fields that the REIBT has had in years,” HHS coach Kevin Leffew said.
Healdsburg opened the REIBT on Dec. 8 against a solid Middletown squad, turning back the Mustangs, 57-46.   
Junior sharpshooter Sam Vanden Heuvel was red hot, knocking down six three-pointers in scoring a team-high 23 points. Senior Graham McDonald took care of business inside the paint, pouring in 18 points. Senior Sebby Leffew chipped in eight assists and outstanding defensive play.
The Hounds kept their foot on the gas in Friday’s semifinal clash with Ukiah, emerging from a closely contested ballgame with a hard-fought, 51-43 win. Vanden Heuvel and Max Hubbell paced the offense with 14 and 12 points respectively, while McDonald had a double-double with 10 points and 12 rebounds.     
“We hadn’t played our best basketball, but had played two very good teams who fought with us for 32 minutes each,” Kevin Leffew noted later. “We were a little banged up going into Saturday’s championship game.”
The Greyhounds tipped off against Justin Siena in Saturday’s title tilt, spotting the Braves a 16-2 lead out of the gate. Healdsburg mounted a steady comeback in the second half that would eventually tie the game late in the fourth quarter, but the Braves regrouped to post a 57-52 victory.  
“They are big, long, athletic and deep, and I believe they played 14 or 15 players against us,” Kevin Leffew said later. “We really competed and fought back, and despite a slow start, we gave all we had.”
Vanden Heuvel earned all-tournament honors with a team-high 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Other strong efforts included Sebby Leffew (14 points, 4 assists, 2 steals) and Hubbell (11 points, 7 rebounds). McDonald was also named to the all-tourney team.   
Healdsburg will take a short break this week before resuming pre-league action on Saturday, Dec. 18 at Rancho Cotate (7 p.m.).   

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