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Henderson hoping to spark winning season for Chieftains boys basketball

FARMINGTON − A familiar face will be returning to the basketball court at Shiprock High School, but for Larenson Henderson, it will be a fairly new challenge.

Henderson, who was hired last spring to take over the boys basketball program at Shiprock High School, is best known for his work with girls basketball programs at Shiprock, and most recently at Farmington High School, where he led the Lady Scorpions to the Class 5A semifinals last year.

Henderson will take over a boys basketball program at Shiprock High School that will be looking to rebuild off some tough seasons of late. The Chieftains haven't posted a winning record since the 2017-18 season, in which they finished 19-10 and advanced to the Class 4A quarterfinals.

In the four seasons since, the Chieftains have won 26 games and lost 66.

"It's been a rough time here for sure," said Henderson when reflecting on the recent difficulties for the boys basketball team. "But these are some great kids and I can see they want to do what it takes to win."

The differences between coaching girls basketball and boys basketball can be found in the style of play, primarily in the physicality of the boys game.

"I think the boys are learning to play more to my style, but at the end of the day, the game is still the same," Henderson said. "It's just a matter of restoring and gaining their confidence."

Henderson served as an assistant coach for the Shiprock boys team under head coach Kevin Holman. From there, Henderson took over coaching the girls program in 2012 from Brady Rivers.

"I needed that experience of working with the boys team and that got me a great job with the girls team," Henderson recalled.

Henderson, who takes over the boys team from Chester Atcitty Jr., led the Lady Chieftains for six seasons, winning 154 games and losing only 29. Henderson's girls basketball teams at Shiprock reached the state finals four times and brought home the coveted blue trophy in Class 4A in 2017, beating Hope Christian.

"I've always had a great sense of this being my home, so when the opportunity arose to come back, I knew I wanted it," Henderson said. "I'm very excited to come back."

Henderson had success at Farmington, most recently last season, when he led the Lady Scorpions to a 28-3 record and within one game of a Class 5A state title contest. The season ended with a loss to eventual state champion Volcano Vista in the state semifinals.

"I'm so proud of what we were able to do at Farmington," Henderson said. "The people there were great for the program and what we were hoping to achieve."

Henderson is excited to see what the Chieftains will be able to do when they face off against district foes like Gallup and Miyamura, who both are coming off winning campaigns last season and played in the 4A state tournament.

"Gallup's got a very impressive program and they're always tough," Henderson said. "The entire district is very tough but it's a challenge I hope we're prepared for."

The Chieftains will open their season on Monday, Nov. 28 when they visit Piedra Vista before hosting the Chieftain Invitational Tourney, beginning Thursday, Dec. 1. For a complete look at the Shiprock boys basketball team schedule, roster and more, check out their official page on MaxPreps.