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Sonoma boys pound ‘Hounds in SCL opener

Sonoma’s Ryan Wilbanks (left) and Cyle Gusse (right) take possession of the ball during a recent nonleague game in Pfeiffer Gym. Bill Hoban/ Index-Tribune

Sonoma’s Ryan Wilbanks (left) and Cyle Gusse (right) take possession of the ball during a recent nonleague game in Pfeiffer Gym. Bill Hoban/ Index-Tribune

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Putting behind them a two-win, 11-loss preseason against an array of tough nonleague opponents, the Sonoma Valley High School varsity basketball boys stepped up their overall play, with defense leading the way to a rousing road victory in Tuesday night’s Sonoma County League opener.

Using a 17-8 first-quarter burst, the Dragons never relinquished their lead as the defense allowed double-digit scoring in only one period and on offense they rode junior Cyle Gusse’s double-double effort to a 51-35 win over longtime SCL foe Healdsburg.

Gusse led the way for Sonoma with a game-high 17 points and 12 rebounds to go with three blocked shots, followed by senior Jesse Summers’ 13 points, four rebounds and four assists; junior Tristan Mertens’ nine points; junior Alex Gustafson’s five points and four rebounds; and junior Ryan Wilbanks’ three points, and senior Andy Chavez and junior Noe Baron’s two each.

“The team had a great defensive effort. Tristan (Mertens) did a great job on Healdsburg’s leading scorer Gus Morris, while Andy (Chavez) and Alex (Gustafson) played great team defense, and Jack (Murphy) did a tremendous job on defending their point guard and taking away his dribble penetration,” said Dragons’ head coach Dennis Housman, who’s assisted by Drue Jacobs and John Ratshin.

Comprising the Sonoma varsity boys’ hoops roster are seniors Chavez, Murphy, Summers and Vinny Albano; and juniors Baron, Gusse, Gustafson, Mertens, Wilbanks, Thomas Crumly, Ryan Fisher and Trevor Welch.

The Dragons remain on the road with SCL games at Petaluma and El Molino tomorrow, Saturday, Jan. 11, and this Tuesday, Jan. 14, respectively, before hosting league foe Piner on Thursday, Jan. 16, in Pfeiffer Gym – freshmen start at 4:30, junior varsity play at 6, and the varsity tips off at 7:30 p.m.

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Sonoma’s jayvee hoops boys opened SCL play with a low-scoring 31-26 win at Healdsburg, led by sophomore Miles Pimentel’s eight points and three rebounds; sophomore Spencer McNairy’s eight points; sophomore Max Yankovich’s six points and eight rebounds; sophomore Travis Claeys’ four points and six rebounds; sophomore Kevin Hurtado’s three points; sophomore Edwin Reyes’ two points, four assists and two steals; and sophomore Austin Chapin’s two points.

Rounding out the Dragon jayvee boys’ roster, coached by Lee Cambra, are junior Christian Jimenez, and sophomores Blake Nichols, Freddy Padilla and Joseph Peterson.