Phillips County News - One Nation, Under God

By Pierre Bibbs
Sports Editor 

Denham led Tri-Cities in 2019-20

 

Former Mustang Kendall Denham coaching a Tri-Cities game. Photo by Steph Denham.

Former Malta High School and Montana State University Billings basketball standout Kendall Denham has completed his first season as head coach of the Tri-Cities (Hobson, Moore, Judith Gap) Titans.

Denham, who is the son of Moe and Steph Denham, is also the physical education teacher at Hobson, as well as the co-op's Athletic Director, a position that he accepted this past fall. As Athletic Director, Denham who recently married his high school sweetheart Amber Reeve, oversees and connects the three schools in their football, volleyball, basketball, and track seasons.

During his time as a Mustang, Denham led Malta to back to back titles in 2012 and 2013. After graduating from Malta in 2013 he played basketball at MSU-B as a Yellowjacket, where he eventually became a starting point guard. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from MSU-Billings in Health and Human Performance with a Teaching Option in the spring of 2018. He was a student-teacher at Malta in the fall of 2018. After teaching in Malta, he was hired in December of 2018 to teach Health and P.E. in Hobson and was named an assistant coach for the Tri-Cities basketball team.

"My faculty advisor at MSU-B sent me an email saying that (Hobson) was looking for a P.E. teacher in the middle of the year," Denham said.

He was hired as the Tri-Cities' head coach in the May of 2019. The Co-op was going through changes during that time, and the conditions for the role of Athletic Director had changed. Denham applied for the AD job and was accepted.

"I applied for both and no one else applied, so they gave me the jobs," Denham said.

Jumping into the 2019-20 school year, Denham had already known what to expect as a coach, but being a director was different.

"It is my first AD job, so at first I didn't know what to expect," Denham said. "Growing up around sports, I kind of knew that directors do the scheduling but I didn't realize all of the other things that go into being an AD."

A few of the responsibilities Denham mentioned included getting uniforms for the teams, collecting physicals from the athletes and their doctors, concussion testing, and attending meetings. He also said that he has reached out to other Athletic Directors to help him along his journey.

"It's going pretty good," Denham said. "I enjoy it a lot. My boss helped me a lot. He showed me the ropes."

Tri-Cities had three separate Athletic Directors last year because the schools were not under a co-operative agreement during track and field. Denham had the task of communicating with all three schools this past school year as the lone Athletic Director.

"When I first got the AD job, I worked all of July getting the schedules ready," Denham said.

During board meetings, Denham kept attendees in the loop of what was going on. Since then Denham has been sending out itineraries to 110 people every Monday. Those emails included the weekly schedules for all Tri-Cities teams.

"It's actually going pretty smooth," Denham said. "If they have questions for me, they just email me to get ahold of me."

All schools across Montana have been closed to students due to the COVID-19 virus, so Denham and the state as a whole has postponed the spring sports season. Still, Denham keeps those in his group emails ready for what may or may not come next.

"Now, with everything being quarantined, there is not much we can do," Denham said. "I just try to keep everyone informed with what's going on."

Denham, who is the grandson of late Hall of Fame coach Del Fried, and son of former Dodson coach Moe Denham, coached his first season as head coach of the Tri-Cities Titans this winter.

"It was a great experience," Denham said. "I grew up around sports and basketball has always been that passion for me and after I was done with basketball I just wanted to stick around the game and be around it as much as possible."

After the 2018-19 season, Denham was able to set up a summer basketball program for his team. And Denham has taught kids things that he has learned as a Mustang under David Costin and as a Yellowjacket under Jamie Stevens.

"It's different from playing, you see a lot of other things that happen throughout the course of a game," Denham said. "It was a great experience and I am in a great community that fully supported me and everything that we did."

The team went 10-10 and took fourth in the 8C District which was an improvement on the team's record from 2018-19.

"By the time that we were done, we were playing our best basketball," Denham said. "We just ran into some juggernaut teams. I was pleased with how we finished."

Denham's approach to the game taught the Titans a couple of things that they didn't do in the past, including one of Costin's favorite offenses, the "Cut Bank" play.

"We just ran dribble-drive, the entire time and when I made a substitution, I would run a five-man motion offense, but I learned so much from Coach Costin and Coach Stevens at MSUB, they taught me so much, and I just try to incorporate things I have learned from them," he said.

Denham ran a man-to-man defense, which encouraged his players to aggressively defend opponents by getting in their faces throughout the game.

"By the end of the season, we were playing really good defense and that was good to see," Denham said.

His favorite moment of the season happened in January.

"Beating Roy-Winifred at home," Denham said. "They were the two-seed at the time, we were the fifth or sixth seed. They beat us earlier in the season by 11 and then we ended up beating them by four. That win bumped us up to fourth."

 

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