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Denair pulls off last seconds win over Hilmar
hilmar boys pic1
Beau Balswick of Hilmar High School shoots and scores on Wednesday evening against Denair High School. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

Denair basketball's Dominyc Silva erased a forgettable first half in Wednesday's preseason matchup against Hilmar High with a fourth quarter game-winning shot to lift the Coyotes over the 'Jackets.

Playing at home, the ‘Jackets held the lead for the majority of the game but with under eight seconds left in regulation, Silva sank the three-pointer that put his team up by two and for good as it ended in a tight 39-37 contest.

“It was sloppy at times overall, but the kids made the right plays down the stretch and we got the look from one of our captains and he was able to put it in,” Denair head coach RJ Henderson said about Silva’s game winning three.

With half the team just returning from football, Hilmar struggled on both sides, committing costly turnovers and had a difficult time putting the ball in the basket, shooting only 4-of-11 from the free throw line.

“I think both teams struggled. I know Hilmar just got their football players back and I know they will have a little bit of a period where they're transitioning ,but they’re a great team,” Henderson said.

By the half, the score was 17-16, with both defenses playing exceptionally well, but the offenses continued to struggle as there were over five lead changes and two ties in the final minutes of the closing quarter.

“Turnovers at the end and our free throws, which were off, cost us,” Hilmar head coach Danny Freitas said. “We missed a lot of critical free throws, layups and we need to make those; that’s key, if you don’t make those you will not win many ball games.”

Denair’s Quentin Allen drained back-to-back three point shots with under two minutes to put the Coyotes up 36-35. Hilmar’s Nino Ta-a, who finished with 11, responded with a long jumper to put Hilmar up 37-36 with seconds left, but it wasn’t over.

“I have to mention the efforts of Quinten, who had two clutch 3-point shots to put us in that position prior to Silva's game winner,” Henderson said.

With less than a minute left, Silva quickly drove in and attempted a layup but missed. Salvador Dela-Cruz handled the rebound and was fouled immediately, giving the Coyotes a second chance.

“We went into a 2-3 zone defense at the end and we looked to pack everything in because we were just up by one point,” Freitas said.

This time, Denair knew it was all or nothing, and it was recent call-up Isaac Starks who made a crucial dish out to Silva who was left wide open to make the winning three.

 “We were a seventh place team last year and we are just trying to just get better.  [This is] the best win that I’ve had in the two years that I have been here,” Henderson said.

“The rotation wasn’t quick enough to get out there because Dom had a good shot there. Credit to him he hit it and won the game,” Freitas said.

Silva finished the game with seven points while Allen added 11 for the Coyotes. Hilmar’s Brock Tate topped out with eight points and Beau Balswick finished with five.

Denair will travel to Hughson to play at 7 p.m. today. Hilmar will travel to Monterey County as the ‘Jackets will compete in the Pacific Grove Tournament.