In a complete turnaround from last year's disappointing start, the Denair High boys basketball team cruised its way out of the opening round of their home tournament with a convincing 52-29 win over Tioga High on Thursday night.
The first half was not all easy sailing, as the Coyotes were up by only six, 14-8, at halftime.
Head coach RJ Henderson spoke some words of wisdom to the team and they picked up the pace in the third quarter, outscoring Tioga 21-5 en route to the Coyotes' fourth win of the season.
“We actually feel like we started a little slow,” said Denair assistant head coach Garett Elliott. “We had a feeling of expecting to get a win after getting a team that is struggling, so I think these guys thought they deserve the win without playing, so we came out flat.”
The slow start didn’t faze the Coyotes squad after senior Dominyc Silva, who was the scoring leader of the night, finished with a game-high 16 points after he tallied 11 of them in the first half. He also added six rebounds to his night.
“As one of the team captains I just needed to pick up my team a bit to get on the board and I just had to get in there a little to help out the team,” said Silva. “It was just slow at first and we played down to the level of competition, but we just can’t come out flat like that.”
With the help of Silva and Ryan Galhano at the center position, the Coyotes picked up the pace in the second half with their domination in the paint and all over the court.
Galhano finished with 16 rebounds and added eight points to his stat total.
By the end of the third quarter the Coyotes had built a monster 45-16 lead, which put the game out of reach for the opposing Timberwolves of Tioga.
“What helped was that third quarter, when coach RJ laid it to them in the locker room at the half and they came in and were more alive,” Elliott said. “After having guys come in from the bench to get an opportunity, they played hard and ended up doing alright in the second half to get the win we needed.”
Denair now moves on to the semifinal where they will square off against Millenium at 8 p.m. Friday.
“We are a second half team and we just can’t come out flat anymore,” Silva added. “We are playing a good team in Millenium and if we come out flat then they will bury us in the first half.”