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Honkers drop home opener
Singh's 28 points not enough in loss to Lincoln
Replacing the most prolific scorer in school history is a difficult task, and that's the predicament Yuba City High's boys basketball team finds itself in this season.
With the graduation of two-time A-D All-Area Player of the Year Matt Hayes, the Honkers not only lost his 23.4 point per game, they also lost their top rebounder and facilitator on offense.
Defense and scoring in transition has been Yuba City's calling card since coach Brian Davis took over in the fall of 2010, and if the Honkers are going to reclaim the Tri-County Conference title for the sixth straight year, they will need everyone on the team to contribute this season.
And while the Honkers did play well in spurts on Tuesday night, it wasn't enough as visiting Lincoln jumped out to a 23-point lead in the third period and held on for a 75-66 victory at Honker Gym, spoiling Yuba City's home opener.
"You can't replace a Matt Hayes, so we're going to do it with more than one guy," Davis explained. "Someone is going to have to step up each night, and it's going to have to be a team effort."
Leading the charge for Yuba City (1-3) was senior guard Gurpreet Singh, who scored a game-high 28 points including 12 in the fourth quarter to help the Honkers cut the lead to seven points late.
However, the problem for the Honkers was a slow start.
Yuba City trailed 39-27 at halftime and saw the Fighting Zebras (2-2) go on 15-4 spurt to open the third quarter to build a 54-31 lead.
The Honkers then unleashed their full-court, pressure defense to go on a run of their own in the fourth, but the margin was too big for them to overcome in the end.
"That's how we should've played the first and second quarter — hustling and diving all over the place," Davis said. "We've got to have that energy from the opening tip."
There are several new faces on the Honkers this season, the biggest being 6-foot-6 junior Aran Dhillon, who blocked six shots off the bench while battling foul trouble. Junior guard Travis Blas added 11 points and dished out four assists, senior Louis Mowers finished with eight points and fellow senior Nathan Gillming pulled down nine rebounds.
Despite the loss, all of the pieces seem to be there for Yuba City. Now it's about figuring out each players' role, and for Davis, it all starts on the defensive end of the floor.
"We've got to step it up on defense. That's been our MO this year — we haven't been able to shut teams down," Davis said. "Defense and rebounding is the key. We're kinda young, so we're trying to pound that in to these guys."
Marcus Salgado scored 22 points, and Alex Gonzalez and John Reyes added 14 each to lead the way for the Fighting Zebras, who were able to overcome a hostile crowd to walk away with the win.
"Both teams played hard, and it was a great atmosphere with the fans," Lincoln coach Robert Ash said. "They sped up the tempo, got layups and starting knocking down 3s they didn't make in the first half. We knew what we were getting into, and we just kinda hung on."
Yuba City (3-1) won the junior varsity game 65-34 behind 16 points and eight rebounds from Parker Lowe. Jaipaul Mann added 12 points and eight rebounds, and John Horn recorded nine points, six assists and four steals in the win.
The Honkers also won the freshman matchup, 65-52. Bailey Elkins scored 11 points and Matt Lara and Ryan Besso finished with 10 points each to lead the Honkers (3-2).