Team playing its best ball; set for postseason run

healdsburg girls basketball 2-7

HOLDING COURT — Sophia Pickering combined for 24 points to help lead the Lady Greyhounds to wins over El Molino and Elsie Allen to secure third place in the North Bay League.

The Lady Greyhounds are playing their best basketball at just the right time after closing out the North Bay League season with wins over El Molino and Elsie Allen.

The victories secured a third place finish in the NBL with a 5-5 record (15-10 overall), landing Healdsburg a spot in the NBL playoff tournament.

At press time the Hounds were preparing to visit No. 2 seeded Piner in the opening round of the tourney on Feb. 5, with the winner advancing to face the survivor of the No. 1 Rancho Cotate versus No. 5 El Molino clash on Feb. 8 at Analy High School at 7 p.m. Also looming on the horizon is a possible spot in the upcoming North Coast Section Division 4 playoffs, which start next week.  Healdsburg is ranked No. 16 in the division and is squarely on the bubble.

The Lady Hounds have faced their share of adversity this season, overcoming injury and illness along the way.

“I’m very proud of this group as we finished with only seven players,” coach Steve Zichichi said. “Several played through injuries all year but they just got better as the season went on.”

Ladies win a pair

Healdsburg traveled to El Molino for a key battle for third place in the NBL on Jan. 29, coming out with playoff intensity in racing to a 28-14 halftime edge. But the Lions came out on fire in a 25-6 third-quarter run, retaking the lead at 39-34.

Not a problem as the Hounds regained composure to close out the game on a 19-6 run to notch a 53-45 win.

"We had lost to them twice during the season, really struggling to contain their two big players, but the girls really were focused in this game,” Zichichi noted. "I thought we’d run out of gas (in the third quarter) but played with more intensity in the final stanza to secure the victory.”

Leading the way for Healdsburg were Hannah Webb (16 points), Aleah Molina (12 points), Sophia Pickering (9 points), Kim Rodgers (8 points), Emily Dunkel (6 points) and Alondra Ruiz (2 points).

The ladies played host to Elsie Allen in the NBL finale on Jan. 31, exploiting a big mismatch to win going away. Healdsburg exploded for a 39-11 cushion at the half and never looked back en route to a 65-16 rout.

Rodgers took top scoring honors with 22 points, while other scorers included Pickering (15 points), Webb (13 points, 16 assists) and Molina (12 points).

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