HEALDSBURG — The practice wasn’t 10 minutes old and a player was on the floor. He rolled from his back to his stomach and held his face, clearly in pain.
He was helped off the court and the drill continued. When he emerged from the locker room, both nostrils were stuffed with nosebleed plugs.
Welcome to the Healdsburg High boys basketball program, where the ’Hounds are young, tall and talented. And to that list of attributes, with a little blood spilled on the floor, you can now add tough.
They certainly talk tough. And why shouldn’t they? The ’Hounds can clearly make a case for being one of the best teams in Sonoma County and yet here they are, playing in the North Bay League-Redwood Division, the lesser of the two divisions in the new NBL configuration.
Don’t think for a second the ’Hounds didn’t notice the perceived slight.
“We think we should be in the higher” division, said last year’s Sonoma County League MVP, senior Trey Chapman. “It gives us a chip on our shoulders. We think we could win that league too.”
Chapman is a do-everything guy on a team that has a number of do-everything guys. At 6-feet-8, he scores almost 21 points per game and grabs more than 13 rebounds. Paired with Dylan Hayman, a first-team all-Sonoma County League pick as a freshman last season, the ’Hounds start to look lethal.
Hayman is 6-4 and can shoot the lights out. He averages 14.6 points per game and more than seven rebounds from the wing. He leads the team in assists with four per game.
“He’s really, really good around the rim,” third-year coach Yasha Mokaram said. “He really just does it all. He just has a knack for putting the ball in the hoop.”
Just ask Piner, the team on the receiving end of a last-second shot from Hayman’s hands that gave the ’Hounds their 41-40 win over the Prospectors in a highly anticipated showdown on Dec. 15.
Add to the mix Graham Macdonald, a 6-7 freshman, outside shooter junior Dewey Widick and point guard and lock-down defender Xzavier Vasquez and the ’Hounds bring to the table a daunting lineup. Which is why getting slotted in the Redwood Division burns a little.
So if we are keeping track, the ’Hounds are at once tall, talented, young, tough and now scorned. Watch out.
This group is 11-3 overall and 1-0 in league. And their wins? Not soft. They beat Cardinal Newman 56-49 on Dec. 13, beat Piner 41-40 two days later, and beat last year’s NBL champs, Windsor, 48-30 on Dec. 28.
And what makes that Windsor game interesting is this — it was the Jaguars who gave the ’Hounds one of their three losses this season, beating Healdsburg in their home gym 68-65 in the season opener.
But to hear some of the players tell it, the loss, that opening-game slap in the face, might have been the best thing that could have happened to the ’Hounds.
“It showed that we had to be focused in every game and focus on every aspect of every game,” Hayman said.