Denair Boys Ready to Host Basketball Tournament

Submitted by Denair High School

Seven games into the season and on the eve of hosting their own holiday tournament, Denair High School boys basketball coach R.J. Henderson is beginning to understand his team.

The Coyotes are exceedingly young, they are more athletic than they have been in years and they’re still figuring out how to play together.

An opening night victory over Turlock Christian was followed by four losses in a row – three of them at the Riverbank Tournament two weeks ago. Then came blowout victories last week over Millennium and Stone Ridge Christian.

“I think we’ve definitely turned the corner,” said Henderson, now in his sixth season as head coach. “We really struggled to shoot it in Riverbank. The effort was there, but it was very disconnected.”

Part of the early season growing pains could have something to do with youth and unfamiliarity. The Coyotes only have nine varsity players – two seniors, four juniors and three sophomores. Henderson expects them all to “play and contribute.”

What little depth Denair has already is being tested. Senior center Dylan Mann – the tallest player at 6-foot-5 – rolled his ankle in Riverbank and may not play until the Southern League schedule begins in January. The other senior, forward Justin Short, suffered a broken nose last week against Stone Ridge. He’s out at least a couple of weeks.

That means the Coyotes will have seven healthy players when they take on Waterford on Thursday at 8 p.m. in the first round of the Denair Holiday Classic. Denair’s other games in the round-robin tournament are Friday at 8 p.m. against Turlock Christian and Saturday at 2 p.m. against Hughson.

Still, Henderson is confident the players who are available will continue to work together – even if rest will be at a premium this week. Continue reading “Denair Boys Ready to Host Basketball Tournament” »

Denair High School Hosts Basketball Camp


Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Come and join local area high school and college coaches and players for the fifth annual Turlock/Denair Basketball Camp. Camp 1 will be held May 31-June 2, 2016, from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm (ages 7-10) or 1:00 – 4:00 pm (ages 11-14). Camp 2 will be held July 5-7, 2016, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm (ages 7-14).

Each camper will learn and develop the basic fundamentals, and sportsmanship needed to play and enjoy basketball. Campers will be divided into teams by age and ability, for maximum participation and enjoyment. Cost for the camp will be $60.00. Each camper will receive a camp T-shirt. Camp 1 will be held at Turlock High School Gymnasium. Camp 2 will be held at Denair High School Gymnasium.

You can download a flyer for the basketball clinics here.

Sharp-Shooting Isaac Starks Named Southern League MVP

Issac Starks

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

High-scoring Denair High guard Isaac Starks was the runaway choice for Southern League boys basketball Most Valuable Player.

Starks, a senior and three-year varsity starter, led the league in scoring at 24 points a game. That was the ninth-highest total for any player in the Sac-Joaquin Section, which encompasses 197 schools between Sacramento and Merced.

“He had a tremendous knack to shoot the ball,” praised Coyotes coach R.J. Henderson. “Everything came together for him this year. His shot looked different. His confidence was higher. … He became a man this year. He wasn’t timid. No matter who we were playing, he was the best guy on the court and he proved it every game.”

Starks thrived despite constant attention by opposing defenses, who tried a little bit of everything to slow the 5-foot-11, 160-pound sharp shooter. Starks scored 20 points or more in 21 of Denair’s 26 games and was held below 10 points just once for a team that finished 10-16.

Starks is being recruited by four community colleges – Merced, Columbia, Cabrillo (Aptos) and College of the Desert (Palm Desert). He expects to make a decision before graduation in May.

“He’s got the ability to create a little space for himself,” said Henderson. “That’s a gift that will translate well at the next level. It’s just a matter of him getting stronger. He definitely can play four years of basketball in college.”

While he contemplates his next school, Starks will have multiple opportunities to showcase his skills.

On March 24, he joined seniors from 10 schools in the 2nd annual Central Valley Senior Showcase at Pitman High School in Turlock. With Henderson as his coach one final game, Starks scored 15 points as his National team defeated the American squad 100-85.

Saturday, he will play in the Madness in the Mother Lode game at Columbia College. And later this spring, he will be on one of the teams in the Six County All-Star Game in Modesto.

Denair High School Hosts Basketball Clinics


Submitted by Denair Unified School District

Denair students who want to sharpen their basketball skills are invited to sign up for free clinics in January and February. The sessions will be conducted in the high school gym by Denair High School varsity boys coach R.J. Henderson and varsity girls coach Taryn Garza. Boys and girls are invited to register. All the clinics are on Saturdays from 10:00 am – Noon. Each camp is limited to 60 students. Grades 1 through 5 will have clinics January 16 and the 23rd, 2016; middle school students will have a clinic January 30th. The sessions will cover basic skills, fundamentals and teamwork. Sign-up sheets are available in the elementary and middle school offices. Each student must fill out a waiver and will receive a pass to an upcoming Denair High School basketball game.

You can download a flyer for the basketball clinics here.

Preseason Schedule Toughens Coyotes for Southern League Competition

DHS Coyotes Football

Submitted by Denair Unified School District

A rugged preseason schedule confirmed a couple of things for Denair High boys basketball coach R.J. Henderson.

First, Isaac Starks is one of the best pure shooters at the high school level Henderson has ever seen. “He’s got a skill set that’s very special,” said the coach of his star guard, who is torching opposing defenses for 23.5 points a game.

Second, the Coyotes have the ability to hang with bigger, more athletic teams. Henderson intentionally entered tournaments with larger schools (Turlock, Ceres and Davis, for instance) to challenge his relatively inexperienced team. They have a 6-8 record to show for it, but he’s hopeful the tougher competition has prepared them for the beginning of the Southern League schedule next week. “I think our staff has done a good job getting the kids ready,” he said. “Here we go. It’s 0-0 and a 12-game season now.”

Henderson, in his fourth year, believes Denair can legitimately compete for one of the league’s three Division 5 playoff berths. Mariposa is the heavy favorite, he said, but everyone else is grouped together. “Honestly, there’s one big dog and two through seven are going to compete for two spots.”

Whatever chances the Coyotes have begin and end with Starks. The 5-foot-11 senior is responsible for about 75% of the team’s offense this season. In addition to his scoring – which represents half the team’s average – he also hands out more than four assists a game. He rarely comes off the floor; Henderson sometimes calls time out just to give him a rest.

“He’s shooting 50% from the field, 40% from three-point range and in the mid-80s on free throws. He can shoot. I haven’t seen too many high school kids in the last 25 years that do what he can do,” Henderson said. “He’s almost cold-blooded out on the court. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion. That’s a trait I’ve seen from better shooters. I think that’s a part of his growth as a three-year starter.” Continue reading “Preseason Schedule Toughens Coyotes for Southern League Competition” »