Denair senior Isaac Starks made the game winning shot as time expired and the Coyotes went on to defeat the Turlock Christian High Eagles in a thriller, 53-51, on Wednesday afternoon at Calvary Baptist Church.
“It was a great game, both teams played well and I thought it was an even game,” said Denair assistant head coach Garett Elliott, who defeated TC for the first time in seven meetings, going 0-6 before Wednesday’s win. “Isaac wasn’t going to give up though, he wasn’t going to lose.”
“Isaac caused real problems for us. He played a heck of a game and he runs the show, passes well, handles well and just overall a great player,” said TC head coach Eddie Sai. “It also hurt us that we shot so bad from the free-throw line.”
Along with snapping the win streak, coach Sai’s squad struggled from line, going 5-for-20 (.250). As a team, TC shot 20-for-52 for the game.
For the second night in a row, Denair pulled off a solid victory to begin their preseason at 2-0 after beating Stone Ridge Christian prior to defeating TC.
With the help of Starks, Dylan Mann has notched back-to-back double-doubles and it didn’t hurt that Starks added a double-double on Wednesday night, scoring 25 points, tallying 10 rebounds and five assists on an 11-for-22 effort.
“If he plays the way he can and people realize it then Isaac can be a league MVP candidate there is no question,” said Elliott.
Although it wasn’t the start the Coyotes expected, TC took advantage of the opportunity and built a five-point lead by the end of the first to go up 13-8 before Denair went on an 18-9 run to end the half up 26-22.
“It was our first game and we are still trying to find ourselves but if you shoot like that from the line it will hurt you,” said Sai.
By the end of the third, Denair’s four-point lead was steady heading into the final quarter of action where the game began to shift momentum.
Both sides switched leads as TC took a two-point lead over Denair before there was back and forth battle in the final two minutes.
“TC came out a lot stronger and those last minutes were intense. It was a crazy game,” said Elliott.
After an offensive possession in the final 10 seconds, Starks took a 14-foot jump shot and followed it with a rebound and put-back but then came down with a second rebound and finally banked it in as the buzzer went off for a no question game-winner.
“He took three shots in the last eight seconds and finally got that last one to go, it was crazy,” said Elliott. “The kid is a standout leader and that effort is apparent, he gets everyone involved, he doesn’t try to do it all himself, but of course we need him to shoot because he is a great shooter.”
Starks has now scored 23-plus points in back-to-back games this season.
Joe Brasil finished with nine important rebounds, Brendan Curnow drilled a late three and Matt Storms was essentially all over the court, making two shots in the final quarter. Mann tallied 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“Everyone played great, outstanding effort from everyone,” Elliott added. “Everyone contributed one way or another.”
Denair’s next game will be at Hilmar High at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
The next game for TC will be at Lodi Academy at 5:30 p.m. Monday.