By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
HEALDSBURG — The host Greyhounds, playing their best game of the season, shot 62 percent from the field Wednesday night and defeated Piner, 81-64, in a Sonoma County League contest.
“We played like men,” coach Nick Galvan said with a wide smile. “Everything we did worked.”
The Healdsburg win means Analy has clinched at least a tie for the league title. Now, both the Greyhounds and Prospectors have three losses while the Tigers are unbeaten with three games (El Molino, Sonoma Valley and Piner) left on the schedule.
Healdsburg spotted Piner a first-quarter lead before taking control of the game in the second. The turning point was an 11-2 run that started at the end of the first. By halftime, the lead had increased to 34-24.
Piner was unable to stop the Greyhounds’ offensive onslaught after intermission and rarely got the margin under 10 points.
The outcome was a big reversal from when the teams met Jan. 11 at Piner. The Prospectors won that night, 61-45.
In the first meeting, the Greyhounds were without center Arnold Silva. He was sidelined while recovering from an appendectomy.
Silva returned Monday in a win against Petaluma and posted double-double (points and rebounds). The senior repeated the feat against Piner, scoring 16 points and collecting 13 boards.
“He’s the heart and soul of the team,” Galvan said. “He makes everyone around him confident. We’re such a better team with him in the line-up.”
The 81 points represents a season high and Silva was one of four Greyhounds to score in double figures. Cameron Lutz led the way with 22, Gus Morris had 17 and Sam Walker finished with 14.
Healdsburg connected on 27-of-43 from the field including nine-of-15 from 3-point territory. The Greyhounds hit 78 per cent of their free throws (18-of-23).
Piner shot 39 per cent from the field and connected on 11-of-14 foul shots.
Led by the 6-foot-5 Silva, Healdsburg enjoyed a 30-17 rebounding advantage. Piner doesn’t have a player taller than 6-feet.
Piner also had four players score in double figures: Marquise Camp (16), Nebi Gedlu (16), Keith Adams (13) and Natu Hezchias (10).
“We just couldn’t stop them,” Prospectors coach Mike Erickson said. “Offensively, they were too much inside and outside. They built a cushion in the second quarter and we never could catch up.”
Piner played pressure defense, but time-after-time Healdsburg beat them down the court and got a shot close to the basket.
“The difference between our two games is that this time we matched their physicality,” Galvan said. “We couldn’t do it at their gym. I felt if we could break down their pressure, we could get to the rim.
“Our guards Jonah and Cameron Lutz did an excellent job of handling the ball.”
The teams figure to play again next month in the SCL Tournament. One team will likely be the No. 2 seed and the other No. 3.