Sports

BHS hires new boys basketball coach

Steve Henderson (seen here at an East Valley practice in 2004) is taking over for Scott Orness as the head coach of the Bainbridge boys’ basketball team. Henderson, 27, spent the last four years as head coach of the East Valley (Spokane) basketball team.  - File photo courtesy of Liz Kishimoto/The Spokesman-Review
Steve Henderson (seen here at an East Valley practice in 2004) is taking over for Scott Orness as the head coach of the Bainbridge boys’ basketball team. Henderson, 27, spent the last four years as head coach of the East Valley (Spokane) basketball team.
— image credit: File photo courtesy of Liz Kishimoto/The Spokesman-Review

Former East Valley (Spokane) coach takes over for Orness.

For a lifelong resident of the East Valley of Spokane, Steve Henderson is ready to get a taste of how the other side lives.

The 27-year-old recently accepted the head coaching position of the Bainbridge boys’ basketball team.

He takes over for Scott Orness, who announced his resignation two months earlier as he wanted to spend more time with his family.

“I’m excited and ready to get going,” he said in a phone interview.

Henderson met some of the players and parents last weekend while members of the team were taking part in a spring league at Highline Community College.

“It’s a tight-knit community,” he said of getting to know the group. “We have a pretty good group of kids coming back and to have a 6-10 guy (in Ben Eisenhardt) that’s pretty good too.”

Henderson’s coaching experience comes from spending the last four years as the head coach at East Valley of Spokane, his alma mater and a 3A school in the Greater Spokane League, a 4A/3A split classification conference.

He leaves with a record of 18-65, going 1-19 last year. The Knights made the district playoffs in the 2005-2006 season.

“The GSL is right up there” with any league in the state, Henderson said. “To have the (two-time) state champ (in Ferris) come out (of the GSL) shows it’s not a slouch of a league.

“We were probably the least athletic team in the league,” Henderson continued. “We were a little outmanned and undersized – my biggest kid was 6-5.

“But I had a great bunch of kids. If I asked them to run through a brick wall, they’d do it. I was confident I was coaching good people – I was definitely blessed over here.”

The experiences were much more positive in Henderson’s time as a student at East Valley High.

A point guard during his tenure on the team, Henderson was a starter during his senior year when the team made it to the 3A regional tournament and was one game away from making the state tournament, which would have been the first time since 1965 that a team from East Valley made it that far.

“For a school that was dominated by wrestling, it was quite a big deal,” he said. “We were an afterthought, so it was quite a turnaround.”

After graduation, Henderson attended Spokane Community College, but didn’t play a minute for the basketball team there, as he was named the coach of the freshman team.

From there he moved up to the junior varsity team and was named the varsity coach when his old coach, Drew Vanderpool, recommended him for the job when he resigned.

“I had a pretty good opportunity in front of me so I took it,” he said.

He’s also taking advantage of an opportunity to not only coach here, but teach, as he will work at as a physical education and health instructor at the high school.

“I just wanted to make sure I had a job,” Henderson said, as the Spokane public school district is looking to make cuts to make up a $2.2 million deficit spurred by the estimated loss of 400 students.

He currently teaches two classes – U.S. and World History – as a part-time teacher at East Valley.

“They’re cutting teachers left and right,” he said. “It’s kind of a downward spiral.”

While he’ll get used to living on the other side of the state, he’ll also have to get used to playing in the Metro League, regarded as one of the toughest in the state, regardless of classification.

It’ll be even tougher with Franklin making its way back into the league after an 11-year absence and a revamped three-division format.

Henderson said he’s tried to learn about the league on the fly through games on Comcast On Demand and friends who live over here.

“It’s definitely something I need to familiarize myself with,” he said.

Bainbridge athletic director Annette Duvall said Henderson’s experience and energy stood out to those on the committee.

“He connects well with people right away,” she said. “He will be engaging and communicative with kids and the coaching staff and the teaching staff.

“I think all-around he’s just a terrific person,” she continued. “He’s available and passionate and committed.”

Jimmy Baggett, one of the returning players, thinks that Henderson is the right fit.

“I’m pretty impressed that the day he got the job he drove down to meet everybody and all the parents,” he said. “He seems really committed.”

Henderson plans to be on the island as soon as he finishes out his teaching contract, which runs out on the last day of school on June 13.

“I want to get over there and get to work as soon as possible,” he said. “It’s definitely on my agenda.”

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