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Coyotes advance to D5 section semifinal
Denair boys basketball 1
Jacob Kuharski of Denair High scored 20 points and snagged 15 rebounds as he finished with a double-double in the Coyotes’ 61-51 win over Buckingham High on Friday night in the second round of the Division-V Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

The Denair High boys basketball team is one victory away from reaching the section championship game following Friday night’s 61-51 home win over Buckingham High in the second round of the D5 Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. 

“Credit them a little bit, some nerves on our side, just did not look comfortable for really two and a half quarters,” said Denair head coach RJ Henderson. “Then we had a stretch where we made some shots and got out after it…it was a mental battle, and a well-coached team.” 

Denair boys basketball 2
Senior Hayden Feldman of Denair goes into the paint for a basket during the first half of Friday's 61-51 win over Buckingham in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section D5 playoffs (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

Following the win, Denair is now 26-2 for the year. 

It is the best record since Denair boys basketball went 28-4 in 2002 and won the Division-V Sac-Joaquin Section title that year.

This year’s team has been looking to match that team and then some, building their own legacy in route to a Southern League title this year after going a perfect 12-0. 

Denair’s last loss came at the hands of Natomas back on Jan. 20, in a 76-72 overtime loss. 

Since then, they have won eight straight with Friday’s win. 

However, Friday’s game didn’t start out well for the Coyotes. In fact, Denair trailed 12-5 following the first quarter. 

Denair boys basketball 3
Denair High senior Jordan Smith-Sires finished Friday's 61-51 win with a double-double after adding 12 points and 11 rebounds (EDDIE RUIZ/The Journal).

“I think we were too high strung at the beginning, and nerves as well, four sophomores in the rotation, and it is their first crack at it,” said Henderson.

The crowd was packed, as the entire Denair section was absolutely full, including the entire student section and even the opposite side was nearly full. 

All of it led to early nerves, but they weathered the storm. 

With the help of double-double performances from Jacob Kuharski and Jordan Smith-Sires, Denair was able to fight back and tie the game at 22-22 by halftime. 

They battled back and forth, and Denair finally went ahead after the third, taking a 41-37 lead into the final eight minutes of action. 

In the fourth, Denair took over. 

The Coyotes outscored Buckingham in the fourth quarter, 20-14, earning a spot in the semifinals. 

“The adjustments made were to make a consistent effort with Kuharski and Jordan Smith-Sires, when they give you two double-doubles, it is difficult to stop,” said Henderson. “Just amazing, but to have this group win a playoff game is solid. But this group is not happy, they know they did not play well. I told them they have at least two games left, so we are not ready to quit. We are not going anywhere; we will see how next week shakes out.” 

Next for No. 3 Denair is a road contest in the semifinal against No. 2 Bradshaw Christian at 7 p.m. Tuesday.