Led by Snohomish grad Daesha Henderson, SPU looks to win D-II West Regional this weekend

  • By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
  • Thursday, March 11, 2010 11:22pm
  • SportsSports

SEATTLE — There was a time in Daesha Henderson’s life when she hated playing with girls.

A self-described tomboy whose closest relatives were an older brother and two male cousins, Henderson preferred the company of boys to that of kids from her own gender. And besides, when it came to playing basketball, Henderson couldn’t get the same kind of competition from girls that she had while playing in boys’ leagues.

“They weren’t very good, to be honest,” Henderson said of why she didn’t want to play in a girls basketball league.

So when her mother, Maggie, signed up Daesha to play in the Snohomish Junior Athletic Association girls’ basketball league, the fourth-grader wanted nothing to do with it.

“I hated it,” Henderson said this week. “I wanted to quit. I cried every weekend. But my mom said: ‘You’re committed to the team.’ And she wouldn’t let me quit.”

For that, the entire Seattle Pacific University coaching staff owes Daesha’s mother a debt of gratitude. Because Daesha Henderson eventually learned to play with girls, and the SPU senior got so good at it that she was recently honored as the Great Northwest Athletic Conference player of the year.

“It’s always an honor,” Henderson said of the award, which has gone to five SPU players since the turn of the century. “It’s a really good conference, with really good players, so it means a lot.”

Beginning tonight, Henderson and the Falcons (24-3) will try to earn a couple other honors. As host of the West Regional, SPU is a favorite to advance to its first Elite Eight in five years, and with that a trip to St. Joseph, Mo., for the NCAA Division II championships.

That’s where Henderson’s biggest goal awaits.

“I think we might” have a chance to win it all, Henderson said this week, as SPU prepared to open the tournament against Hawaii Pacific tonight. “I wouldn’t have said that a few weeks ago, but we’ve really started to play well as a team.”

While tonight’s game is the first objective, the Falcons do have another itch that they’ve been waiting to scratch for two years. The second round is likely to feature a game against Alaska Anchorage, which has knocked SPU out of each of the past two West Region tournaments in the round of 16 — both at SPU’s gym.

Far be it for Henderson to make a vow of redemption, but it’s safe to say that the Falcons would like a rematch.

“Right now we have to take it one game at a time,” said Henderson, one of three Snohomish High School products currently playing at SPU. “But obviously, they’re a huge rival.”

As far as individual goals go, Henderson thought she had a chance to be GNAC player of the year last season but had to watch Alaska-Anchorage’s Rebecca Kielpinski win it for the third year in a row. Henderson said this week that multiple conference coaches told her later that the award went to the wrong person.

“I was definitely in the running for it,” Henderson said of last year’s voting. “Coming into this year, I definitely had hopes of getting it.”

As a senior, Henderson ranked in the conference’s top 10 in scoring (13.3 points per game, ninth), assists (2.7, seventh) and steals (2.5, first). During her four-year career at SPU, Henderson ranks sixth in GNAC history in career steals and 25th in career assists.

And now she’s got that player-of-the-year award.

Playing with the girls hasn’t turned out as bad as Henderson expected.

Talk to us

More in Sports

Arlington’s defense stuffs Ferndale running back Talan Bungard on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, at Arlington High School in Arlington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Arlington steamrolls Ferndale in 3A Wesco North showdown

The Eagles light up offense in the first half, finish business to earn a 46-14 win.

Lake Stevens High School head football coach Tom Tri hoists his team’s championship trophy during a community parade and celebration Saturday, Dec. 10, 2022, in Lake Stevens, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
The Herald’s 2022-23 Man of the Year in Sports: Tom Tri

The Lake Stevens coach guided the Vikings to Snohomish County’s first large classification football state title in more than 30 years.

West Linn’s Ryan Vandenbrink (23) runs with the ball during a football game between Lake Stevens and West Linn at Lake Stevens High School in Lake Stevens, Washington on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023. West Linn won, 49-30. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Turnovers cost Lake Stevens in loss to Oregon power West Linn

The Vikings’ run of 35 straight home wins in the regular season ends in an interstate showdown of big-school state champions.

Marysville Pilchuck’s Christian Van Natta lifts the ball in the air to celebrate a turnover during the game against Marysville Getchell on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 22

Prep football roundup for Friday, Sept. 22: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report… Continue reading

Lynnwood teammates mob senior Abbie Orr (4) after her impressive dig led to a point against Jackson during a volleyball match Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023, at Lynnwood High School in Bothell, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lynnwood volleyball team continues rise to prominence

After ending a 20-year state drought last season, the Royals are surging again and have vaulted to No. 3 in Class 3A in the new WSVCA poll.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) scrambles up field during the second half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Seahawks set to host Panthers, honor past while focused on present

Seattle will honor the 10-year anniversary of its only Super Bowl championship during Sunday’s game.

Jackson High’s Ben Lee lunges to get to the ball against Kamiak on Thursday, Sep. 22, 2022, at the Kamiak Tennis Courts in Mukilteo, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Prep boys tennis season preview: Players and teams to watch

A look at the area’s top athletes and teams on the tennis court this fall.

Fall prep sports roundup.
Prep roundup for Saturday, Sept. 23

Also, Friday’s non-football prep results.

Austin Roest prepares to take a wrist shot during the first day of Silvertips training camp on Thursday, August 31, 2023, at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Dad is an NHL bigwig, but Silvertips’ Roest carving his own path

The 19-year-old forward and son of Stanley Cup-winning executive Stacy Roest leads the Silvertips into the 2023-24 season.

Most Read