It takes a special formula to forge a championship basketball team, a concoction that requires equal parts talent, commitment, preparation and performance.

When the curtain comes down on the high school hoops campaign in March, the Lady Greyhounds may find that they possess a perfect blend of each.  

Under the watchful eye of veteran head coach Steve Zichichi, Healdsburg has made a steady move up the ranks in the North Bay League power rankings, but this could be the year that the team elevates to the next level to hang a league pennant.

“I am very excited about our team and feel like we have the best chemistry that we have had in the past six seasons,” Zichichi reported. “Everyone has bought into our ‘team first’ mentality and it doesn’t matter who scores because all of the players are happy.”

The Hounds will field a good mix of youth and experience, returning a core of four starters. Junior captain and all league veteran Itzel Ortiz will be among the team leaders, doing everything but sweeping the floor most games.  

“Itzel does so many good things and how she goes is how we go,” Zichichi noted. “She scores, rebounds and plays defense.”

Hailey Webb

Sophomore guard Hailey Webb is one of four returning starters to this year’s Healdsburg High School varsity basketball team. 

Joining her is a strong list of returnees that features sophomore captain and point guard Hailey Webb, who set the tone last spring with an outstanding freshman campaign. 

“Sometimes I have to remind myself that Hailey is only a sophomore,” Zichichi said. “She plays like a seasoned veteran running the offense and leading the team.”

Other veterans include seniors Emily Dunkel and Katy Conrad (returning from a year off) and junior Maddie Wagner.  Sophomore Jordan Holland will add depth and experience to the squad. 

Healdsburg will carry three talented freshmen, led by starting post player Allie Espinoza and teammates Ashley Behrens and Ruby Leffew.

“Allie may be our best defender and the sky is the limit for her potential,” Zichichi predicted. “She will be a future all league player. All three of our freshmen are so talented and when they gain confidence in their abilities, they will really improve our team.”

The Hounds will again compete in the North Bay League Redwood Division against the likes of Maria Carrillo, Santa Rosa and Piner. Healdsburg opens the NBL schedule against visiting Piner on Jan. 5.

“I think we’ll challenge for league this year, although Maria Carrillo is definitely the team to beat,” Zichichi said.

Hounds off to winning start

Healdsburg (2-0) didn’t waste any time notching its first season wins, having posted a pair of lopsided road victories this week over Lower Lake (65-19) and St. Helena (61-16). Dunkel and Ortiz led the way against Lower Lake with 17 15 points respectively, while Webb chipped in 13 points and 14 assists.

The Greyhounds got good scoring balance in the win over St. Helena, led by Webb, (14),

Ortiz (13), Dunkel (11), Espinoza (10 points) and Conrad (6 points, 8 rebounds). Also in the scoring column were Behrens (5 points), Leffew (2 points), Wagner (2 points) and Holland (2 points).  

At press time the Hounds were preparing to host Roseland University Prep on Nov. 18 (7:30 p.m.), followed by road trips to Sonoma Academy (Nov. 19, 6:30 p.m.) and Albany (Nov. 20, 1 p.m.).  

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