Denair High senior’s Steffin Winston and Drew Pritchard are two very unique student-athletes who not only earned every bit of praise and accolades, but did it in a humble and small setting that had never been seen before.
They are the Turlock Journal Co-Players of the Year and they obtained it by both achieving peaks that had never been seen before at Denair.
“I think culturally, the culture around here changed with them two. I think they are a couple of vibrant students on campus and I think that translates as far as crowds and interest,” said Denair basketball head coach RJ Henderson. “Both of them attract people towards them and we never had that before. We had talented kids come through, but those two are the total package. They are student athletes from the get-go and they showed it in the classroom and it translated into a lot of good memories in the last couple of years.”
The noise and memories were loud enough for the surrounding communities, leagues and everyone else who takes interest in high school athletics, to recognize the special talent that Denair had flowing through their halls and locker room from 2015-2019.
Winston and Pritchard are leaving Denair better than when they started, their multiple first-team all-league selections, along with their section and state titles for football, have left these two individuals in a place where the Coyotes community will forever remember.
“They provided a positive environment,” said Henderson. “That was the thing about both of them, they have leadership skills that really provided a lift with a younger team this year with juniors and a freshman that started.”
This year, Pritchard averaged 15 points, four rebounds, three assists, and two steals per game. He was also a three-time Southern League first team selection.
Winston averaged 13 points per game along with nine rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals. Winston is also a two-time first-team Southern League selection.
From 2012-17, Henderson’s Denair teams won a total of 15 games in the Southern League.
The last two seasons, they won 18 combined, nine in each year, going 18-6 in league play during that time frame.
Denair went 17-11 this season, going 9-3 in league play.
In the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V playoffs, Denair as a No. 11 seed, upset No. 6 Bradshaw Christian on the road Feb. 13, in a 68-61 final.
They eventually fell to semifinalist No. 3 Sacramento Adventist.
“It was a very good year. Our first true road win in the playoffs,” said Henderson. “Prior to Wooten, I am talking first playoff win since 2007, and back-to-back playoff years and would have liked to be seeded higher, but it all worked out for a reason. They have set the groundwork moving forward that Denair can be a destination for kids, if they are not pleased at a specific spot, we have open doors here and we will not shy away from that ever.”
Pritchard also surpassed 1,000 career points.
“I had plenty of great three-year players, but none of them have cracked 1,000 points. He is the first and that is a tremendous accomplishment,” Henderson added. “He did it in a nature of ways over the years, and then developed a good driving game toward the basket where he became more of a slasher and it was really a stabilizing force in the end. Winston was almost a double-double guy from his freshman year. He is middle 850 in points and 700 in rebounds. He did work and for someone just above 6-foot, he did work well above his frame and put up good numbers against the bigger schools.
The coach of the year honors this year was given to Travis Thompson of Turlock Christian who, in his first season, did what no other prior head coach had done with the Eagles.
He led the Eagles to their first Sac-Joaquin Section Championship game after they made a wild run, first beating the No. 9 seed, then upsetting No. 1 Stockton Christian, followed by a wild semifinal win over league rival, No. 4 Big Valley Christian.
TC met No. 3 Vacaville Christian in the finale and fell 58-45, after they averaged just over 60 points per game for the year (1951 total points).
All the coaches from the coverage area voted him as coach of the year.
Thompson will also coach in the fifth Annual Central Valley Senior Showcase on March 21.
“I was here in June last year, so it has been crazy and humbling for sure,” said Thompson. “Not about me at all, it is about the players and it is about them that I am considered, an honor without a doubt, because there are great coaches in the area who did great. To be considered and nominated is humbling and exciting, but without my boys doing it, would not have happened and the coaches for nominating me and it is an awesome thing.”
TC ended the year with a 17-15 overall record.
It was the first winning season since 2013-14 when TC went 18-10.
All-Journal Boys Basketball
Co-Players of the Year: Drew Pritchard and Steffin Winston (Denair)
Coach of the Year: Travis Thompson (Turlock Christian)
All-Area/All-Journal Boys Basketball Team
Cam Sherwood (Turlock)
Zack Silva (Turlock Christian)
Cole Carrigg (Turlock)
Cameron Walker (Turlock)
Josiah Frank (Pitman)
Khyan Issa (Pitman)
Gunndeep Hayer (Pitman)
Micah Blomenkamp (Turlock Christian)
Ethan Fisher (Turlock Christian)
Will Tate (Hilmar)
Aidan Azevedo (Hilmar)
Justin Barros (Hilmar)