Homecoming night didn’t fare well for the Denair High boys basketball team on Friday (3-7). The Coyotes seemed almost destined for the victory, but the visiting Hawks of Delhi (6-3) managed to nudge out the one-point victory in the final seconds, 47-46, in dramatic fashion.
“Sometimes the ball bounces your way and sometimes it bounces out, I think that just sums up the night,” Delhi head coach Eugene Drummond said.
“Everybody played well,” Denair assistant head coach Garett Elliott said. “The effort all around was very good, it was just one of those games where a couple bounces just didn’t go our way but everyone was motivated. It’s just tough to lose this game since homecoming is a game you want to win.”
With 7.6 seconds left in regulation, Denair had possession as they inbounded the ball but the tightly contested defense of Delhi caused the Coyotes to turn the ball over for one final time causing the home team to drop its third straight Southern Athletic League contest.
“We just didn’t get the shot off at the glass, that’s what we were really looking to do and if we missed we crashed the boards but it just didn’t go our way,” Elliott said of the final play of the game.
The Hawks picked up their second consecutive win and are now sitting in second place in the SAL just behind Mariposa.
“We lost two close games in league already at the buzzer or OT, so it was good to get this close win at the end,” Drummond said. “Since we are pretty young it was a good game to win and learn from it.”
Denair's Dominyc Silva and Isaac Starks each played an outstanding game despite the Coyotes picking up the loss.
“Starks played awesome. He shot very well,” Elliott said.
Starks finished the night with a game-high in points (24) along with seven assists and drained six three-point shots for the game.
Silva was nearly unstoppable in the paint with 11 points and 13 rebounds to add another double-double to the stat sheet.
“They had us on the ropes. Denair played a great game,” Drummond said. “Starks and Silva each had a big game against our pressure. They controlled the tempo for 28 minutes of the game.”
Denair found themselves up a couple times during a very physical contest.
By the end of the first half the Coyotes had gone up 28-26, and at the start of the fourth they led 37-36.
The biggest difference in the game, however, was Delhi’s defense which forced Denair to turn the ball over 22 times. Heading into the game, Delhi had allowed the least amount of points per game in the SAL according to Maxpreps.
“They are scrappy. Every time we play them we know what is going to happen, they are going to run around and get off the floor,” Elliott said. “They rebound well on both sides and forced turnovers and what they do is set themselves up to get extra possessions, extra shots and that’s what they did.”
Delhi closed out the quarter with a splash as Dallas Gregor, the team’s lone senior, knocked down the eventual game winning shot with just over a minute left.
Jose Cruz scored 13 and Chance Browning had a team-high 16 points for the game.
With only two games remaining, the possibility of a postseason berth for Denair looks to be well out of reach.
“It’s a tough loss, not near the way we want to finish up; but we gotta play these last two games and try to end the season on a good note with victories,” said Elliott. “Our guys are down, a bit bummed out but at the same time they have come a long way from where we started.”
“Like any game, turnovers and rebounds will usually tell the tale of who wins at high school basketball,” Drummond added.
Denair’s next game will be against Gustine at home at 7:30 p.m. Friday.