Windsor scaling SCL’s heights

By PHIL BARBER
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Alec Giddings is 6-foot-4 and his wife, Barbara, is 6 feet even, and there is additional height on either side of the family tree, so it wasn’t a big surprise when their sons, Tanner and Collin, began growing in middle school like one of those magic dinosaur sponges — and kept going in high school.

Tanner Giddings, right, and Shane Hardisty try to grab a rebound in a game last month against Healdsburg. Photo by Crista Jeremaison / The Press Democrat

“The tallest in the whole family was 6-6, I think,” Tanner said.
“Was” being the operational word. Tanner is now listed at 6-foot-9, and Collin is at 6-7. They are part of what makes the Windsor boys’ basketball team a matchup nightmare for most opponents. But they aren’t the only skyscrapers on the Jaguars roster. Kameron Richardson, a 6-6 junior forward, is an imposing rebounder, shot blocker and defender, and coach Steve Kramer calls 6-4 senior forward Shane Hardisty his best back-to-the-basket player. Another contributor, Garrett Hansen, is 6-5.

It’s a wealth of measurements that Kramer has never enjoyed before.
“Not even close,” the coach said. “We’ve had some real good teams in years past, but they were always guard-dominated. In ’08, when we won the (Sonoma County) League, I think we had the two best guards in the county. And our post player was 6-2.”
Windsor’s growth spurt has translated to an excellent season. As attention in the SCL has shifted from last year’s champion Analy to this year’s, Casa Grande, the Jaguars have stuck around just off camera. They are 17-8 overall heading into the league tournament, having completed a 9-3 SCL run with a 54-49 victory in the season finale at Analy, running their winning streak to five.
That last result gave Windsor the home court — against Analy again — in the first round of the SCL tournament, which begins Wednesday.

Kramer believes his team has done enough to earn a North Coast Section bid. Win another game or two, he figures, the Jaguars might even get a home game.
Windsor began its preseason 1-4, but part of the reason was the bumpy integration of five players from the football team. Best known among them was Christian McAlvain, the quarterback who settled into a similarly vital role as the Jaguars point guard.

Kramer admitted that McAlvain was “in our doghouse a little” at the start of the season, but has since applied himself fully to basketball and has emerged as an athletic, aware ball handler. With all that height at his disposal, the team has gotten better along with McAlvain.
And at the center of it all is the center, Tanner Giddings, a junior who averages between 14 and 15 points a game, along with 10 rebounds. When he played for the freshman team two years ago, Tanner injured his wrist and wound up missing most of the season.

“We didn’t know what we had, other than that he was a tall kid,” Kramer said. “But we found out last year he was pretty good.”
Now most offensive plays run through Tanner in the post. He is frequently double- or even triple-teamed, which cuts into his numbers but opens up the court for the rest of the Jaguars. A superb athlete, the lanky Tanner is well coordinated for his height. He might be the fastest player on his team.

Collin Giddings, a senior, is 17 months older than Tanner, but has struggled this year with back problems. He was diagnosed with a herniated disk just before school started, and spent much of the fall rehabbing.
Even by last year, Tanner had surpassed Collin on the court. It might have been an awkward situation, except Collin handled it so well. With his recent back troubles, the senior realizes basketball may not be in his future, so he has begun to concentrate on his first love — the guitar — while ceding most of the hoops heroics to his kid brother.
The two are on the court together for Windsor at times and, not surprisingly, have the sort of fluid interaction that comes from years of playing together on the street.

“It’s actually really nice having him around,” Tanner said. “I’ve been with him my whole life. We’re like best friends, even outside of basketball.”
If Collin’s presence makes Tanner more comfortable, it might help the younger sibling turn that final corner and release his inner beast.

“We still need him to be more aggressive,” Kramer said of Tanner. “He’s too nice at times. As a sophomore, we didn’t really ride him hard. This year has been a little different. We’re more demanding of him. At times, he is more aggressive and physical on the court, and when he does that he’s really good.”

If Tanner can stay on the attack, and if his towering teammates can play strong supporting roles, Windsor might well be the team no one wants to play in the postseason.
“No matter where we’re seeded, I think we’re a tough out,” Kramer said. “I think our height gives us a chance against anybody.”

You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com.