Benefield: Tech High’s Himansu Singh standing tall on basketball court (w/video)

Roseland University Prep's Abel Ortiz, left, and Pablo Avendano, right, defend against Technology's Himansu Singh during the game, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

Roseland University Prep’s Abel Ortiz, left, and Pablo Avendano, right, defend against Technology’s Himansu Singh during the game, Friday, Jan. 23, 2015. (Crista Jeremiason / The Press Democrat)

By KERRY BENEFIELD

THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

If Klay Thompson goes down with an injury, Steve Kerr needn’t worry. Himansu Singh is just up the road in Rohnert Park, performing regularly for Technology High.

Singh, the lanky junior who leads the Tech Titans in nearly every conceivable stat category, dropped 47 points on Tomales in a league contest earlier this month — 30 of which came in the fourth quarter alone.

And what makes Singh’s score-fest even more remarkable is that he did it with starting center Nathan Gerhardt on the bench with his fifth foul.

“You could tell he felt it,” Gerhardt said this week, still shaking his head at his friend’s exploits. “They sagged off because they were tired and he pulled up and drained it,” he said, pointing to a white line somewhere between halfcourt and the 3-point arc.

Yeah, I guess you could call that feeling it.

“It’s all business,” Gerhardt said of Singh’s attitude on the court.

Singh is so suit-and-tie about basketball that he didn’t know nearly how many points he had put up. All he knew is that the Titans lost 80-75.

“It was disappointing to lose the game. I felt like the whole team worked hard to come back and we just fell a little short,” Singh said.

Oh, and he also spent his post-game hours in the ER, watching medics suture his upper lip after he got popped in the mouth.

That’s just business as usual, according to Gerhardt.

“His focus is the team even though he’s the star player,” he said.

Star? Let’s look at the numbers.

Singh, a captain with Gerhardt and the heart of the extraordinarily young Titans squad, is averaging more than 21 points a game. The Titans as a team are averaging 47.5.

Singh leads the squad in minutes played, field goals made, assists and steals. In rebounds and blocks, he’s second best.

This is a guy people remember hanging around the community gym as a kid, ear buds in, looking for a game. And if no one played, he’d shoot. For hours.

“I just love playing,” he said. “It’s one thing that gets my mind off things.”

When you have a mind that produces a 4.2 or a smidge higher grade point average, you might need a little mental outlet. Basketball has always been it for Singh.

“He walked in as a 5-foot-1 freshman and probably didn’t weigh more than 95 pounds,” coach Scott McKeon said.

Singh also walked in as a ninth-grader who had been cut from his eighth-grade middle school team. So the little guy might have had a bit of a chip on his shoulder.

“It was bad but it was also my first year of playing basketball,” he said. “I kept going to the sports center in Rohnert Park and tried to get better.”

And despite his stats, he’s still trying to get better.

Even in-season, even with that sky-high GPA, Singh still spends time every day at the rec gym on his own, working on his game.

McKeon said he’s seen Singh grow more than just in inches in the three years the Titans have had a team. Singh is getting more vocal, he is more willing to share duties and he sets a tone at practice that winning and playing hard are OK around here.

Gerhardt sees it, too. He called Singh the father figure of the team, more apt to bark out an instruction or two, while Gerhardt takes a gentler approach.

The learning curve has been, well, curvy for McKeon and his crew. And Singh’s emergence as one of the top shooters around has to be put in the context of the program he’s a part of.

Tech High, whose classrooms are on the Sonoma State campus, has only had a basketball team for three years — since Singh’s freshman year. They practice and play in the gym at Technology Middle School.

McKeon, who teaches integrated science and engineering at Tech, has coached the Titans since the program’s inception.

He doesn’t cut kids — he takes all comers. And there is no junior varsity squad.

The school has posted a 19-48, three-year overall record following Friday night’s 51-14 NCL II victory over Calistoga. There are seven freshmen on the 14-man roster this season, and just three seniors.

It’s like a “little bit of a rag-tag group of street ballers, if that’s what you want to call them,” McKeon said. “I would lie if I didn’t say it wasn’t challenging at first.”

At a practice this week, there was as much focus on fundamentals — the basics of blocking out, yelling “shot!” on defense — as there was fine-tuning strategies to break Singh free against the box-and-one defense.

But McKeon can count on one thing: These kids are smart. Tech routinely posts the top academic scores of any high school in Sonoma County.

“These kids excel academically. They listen, they excel,” he said. “We like to light the fire under them and encourage them to achieve their goals not only academically but athletically.”

Singh is clearly leading the way on both counts.

You can reach staff columnist Kerry Benefield at 526-8671 or kerry.benefield@pressdemocrat.com and on Twitter @benefield

  • Bryan Fisher

    Great story!