Submitted by Denair High School:
R.J. Henderson thinks Tuesday’s first-round matchup against Pacific Bay Christian in the NorCal Division V basketball tournament could not have worked out any better for his Denair team.
That’s because, in many ways, the seventh-seeded Eagles (27-3) are very similar to the 10th-seeded Coyotes (26-3).
They have a big center – 6-foot-7 senior Dwight Bumgarner – who can be a load in the middle. He averages about 14 points and nine rebounds a game.
Denair responds with its own physical front line featuring 6-6 senior Jacob Kuharski (10.3 ppg, 8.6 rpg) and 6-2 senior Jordan Smith-Sires (12.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg).
Pacific Bay Christian has a leader in point guard Diego Sotto (14.8 ppg). Denair features senior Hayden Feldman (10.9 ppg) and sophomore Mario Plasencia (6.8 ppg).
The Eagles tied for first in the Private School Athletic League North and then lost in the Central Coast Section Division V finals to Eastside College Prep 56-38 on Saturday. The Coyotes won the Southern League title before falling to Bradshaw Christian 60-45 in the semifinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V tournament.
“I think the matchups are good for us,” said Henderson after watching two game tapes of Pacific Bay Christian, which is in Pacifica, south of San Francisco. “I think it will be a good game. I think our athleticism is about the same.
“They’ve got a two-headed monster with their big kid and their guard, but they’ve also got some nice kids around them. … There’s a reason they’re 27-3. And I think it’s the same with us.”
The winner of Tuesday’s will play Thursday against either No. 2 Bradshaw Christian (18-13) or No. 15 Los Molinos (18-8).
The idea of Denair getting a chance to avenge its loss last week to Bradshaw Christian will not be a part of the run-up to meeting Pacific Bay Christian, Henderson promised.
“We can’t get that far ahead of ourselves,” he said.
Today, Henderson and his assistants will show their players about a half-hour’s worth of tape on Pacific Bay Christian before practice, then strategize together about an approach to Tuesday’s game.
“I’ve got a couple of wrinkles in mind,” Henderson promised.
Tuesday, they plan to leave about 1 p.m., which should give the Coyotes plenty of time to bus to Pacifica, have a light dinner late in the afternoon and then get ready for the game. They all know that the next loss – whenever it occurs – will mark the end of what has been a very successful season.
“Our goal was to play a game in March and we’re going to do that,” Henderson said. “I hope it comes together for at least one more game for us. I think it’s a matchup – I won’t say it favors us – but it’s one in which our guys can compete. We’re looking forward to it.”
Tip-ins: Tuesday’s game starts at 7 p.m. Pacific Bay Christian is at 1030 Linda Mar Blvd. in Pacific. … Henderson was happy with Denair’s seeding. “I think 10 was fair to us. There were a couple of section champions who were seeded lower than we were.” … Brookside Christian (23-8), which defeated Bradshaw Christian 69-48 for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V title, was moved up to Division IV for the NorCal tournament. … The No. 1 seed in the Division V NorCal tournament is Pierce (25-4) of Arbuckle.