Las Vegas Sun

September 18, 2014

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Marquee night from Hassan Henderson gives Las Vegas High crucial win

The Wildcats take down the Cowboys, now stand alone in fourth place in the Northeast

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Las Vegas basketball players Hassan Henderson, George Sanico and Travon Langston.

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Stakes are raised with regular season winding down

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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Case Keefer and Ray Brewer take a look around Las Vegas at the teams that are peaking at the right time. They also break down some of the week's most important contests.

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It’s no coincidence that the Las Vegas High basketball team’s rise in the Northeast division standings is coming at the same time Hassan Henderson is playing his best of the season.

Henderson, a junior forward, scored 25 points to go with 13 rebounds Tuesday night as Las Vegas avenged an early-season loss against Chaparral, 55-44.

“He’s really been rebounding well for us,” Las Vegas coach Jason Wilson said of Henderson. “I told him, ‘I don’t care how many you score, I really don’t, as long as you rebound.’ The last three or four games he’s really done a good job of that.”

Wilson said Henderson had averaged 12 rebounds in that span as the Wildcats have won three straight and four of their last five.

The victory at Chaparral Monday puts Las Vegas in fourth place in the division and in control of its own destiny when it comes to landing a playoff spot.

“I did what I needed to do for the team,” Henderson said. “Everyone played their role and if that happens, we’ll get the victory like we did tonight.”

The game started as a battle of styles. Chaparral tried to slow the pace and employ deliberate half-court sets, while Las Vegas sprinted down the floor every time it got a chance.

The Wildcats’ preference won out, as the quickness of guards George Sanico and Phil Dunigan got them plenty of open looks.

“We have some pretty good athletes and we wanted them to play slow and us to play fast,” Wilson said. “We got some opportunities to do that.”

Sanico finished with 10 points and six assists. Dunigan dished four assists, while adding 12 points.

The Henderson, Sanico and Dunigan trio played its best in the second quarter, helping Las Vegas outscore Chaparral 21-10. The Wildcats took a 34-18 lead into halftime, which proved to be a large enough cushion even when the Cowboys went on multiple runs to cut the margin to less than nine points.

“I think the kids, offensively, are finally buying into what we’re doing a little bit,” Wilson said. “We’re knocking down shots and making free throws and that makes a difference.”

Wilson also mentioned that the Wildcats were playing better defense. Henderson was at the forefront of that effort, too, against Chaparral.

He limited touches and boxed out the Cowboys biggest threat, 6-foot-8 center Zach Kirshbaum, who had 13 points and six rebounds.

Although it’s easy to attribute Las Vegas’ recent success to Henderson’s progression, he credited someone else — his coach.

“He watches film for five hours per day,” Henderson said. “I’m telling you, he watches film tirelessly all day. He tells us what we need to do and if we execute, we know we’ll get the victory.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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