Denair High’s girls led Southern Athletic League rival Delhi High for the entire first half of Thursday’s basketball game, but with one quarter left to play the situation seemed dire for the Coyotes. After struggling to contain Denair’s offense, the Hawks closed the gap on the Coyotes and pulled away with a 13 point lead.
The pressure was on, but Denair responded. With seconds left on the clock the Coyotes fought back and took a one point lead. Soon after, the game ended and Denair walked out of Delhi’s gym with a 30-28 victory— snapping its six game losing streak.
“They started putting more pressure on us and our guards couldn’t get through,” Denair’s head coach Daniel Rodriguez said of Delhi’s defense. “Next thing you know we came back and won the game.”
Thursday’s game was a must win for Denair if its girls were to keep their playoff dreams alive, but with the absence of their leading scorer, Samantha Watts, the Coyotes knew they were in for a challenge. Luckily, Paige Shipman and Alyssa Villa were up to the task, helping run Denair’s quick paced and pass-oriented offensive attack.
“The girls really had to step up,” Rodriguez said.
But by the third quarter Denair let its confidence spill over and muddy its first half success. With increased pressure from the Hawks defense and a string of turnovers, the Coyotes were put in a game of catch up.
With eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter Shipman drained a trey and sparked the beginning of a Coyote comeback that was reminiscent of the last time Denair and Delhi met; a game that ended in double overtime in favor of the Coyotes.
“The whole team did a really good job,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a young group. They’re working as hard as they can and they’re really believing in each other right now.”
The win keeps Denair’s playoff hopes alive. Delhi’s post-season aspirations are all but over now, however, as the loss stands as its 12th straight.
“With half the season left hopefully we can make a run and get to playoffs,” Rodriguez said. “We want to keep the motivation and momentum going. “The girls want playoffs; they’re playoff hungry.”
Denair hosts Waterford High on Tuesday as it looks to pile up more victories. Delhi’s quest for its first SAL win continues on Tuesday as well when they host Turlock Christian High.