Getting acclimated to an Arizona summer was more of an adjustment for Shanice Henderson than being the new girl in town with the Mountain Pointe girls basketball team.
The Pride senior moved to Ahwatukee Foothills from Sioux City, S.D., in July, but was able to beat the heat by heading for a cooler gym to play with the Pride in summer league.
Since then Henderson has blended into the chemistry of the team like she had been playing with the Pride for the last two or three years.
“It wasn’t hard,” Henderson said. “We had a new coach, so it was pretty much the same for everyone. And playing during the summer helped me get to know everyone before the season started.”
She was a point guard with her high school team in South Dakota, so she fit into the scheme of things with the Pride.
It isn’t often that a player with Henderson’s experience and skill end up unexpectedly on a coach’s doorstep, so Mountain Pointe coach Trevor Neider, who was taking over the program after two years as a junior varsity coach appreciates his good fortune.
“Of course we were happy to get her and when she played with us during the summer, she fit right in,” said Neider, who is a native of Wisconsin.
That may have helped Henderson’s transition, too.
“Coach (Trevor) Neider is from the Midwest, too, and we kid about having the same Midwest mentality,” Henderson said. “But the up-tempo style was what I liked and was used to.”
Henderson had thrown the Pride into a higher gear as a point guard this season and relieved junior Nikki Villescaz from being a point guard so she could be a shooting guard.
“She speeds things up a bit,” Villescaz said. “We don’t have to wait to get going.”
Villescaz is averaging almost 12 points per game this season, just behind Katie Nemecek, who is averaging a little more than 13 points.
Teammates like Nemecek and Gabby Johnson have joined in the praise for Henderson.
Henderson has been on the court almost since she could dribble a ball, and she parlays her speed as a guard onto the track, where she is a sprinter.
“I play tennis, too,” she said, “but track season and tennis season are at the same time here so I can do only one. I plan to go out for track.”
But Henderson might be delayed a bit.
The Pride girls team is 17-3 and seeded 10th among the 16 teams that will qualify for the state 5A-1 playoffs. It will be the Pride’s first playoff appearance since 2006.
Along with her leadership on the floor, Henderson is averaging almost nine points per game and with 36 rebounds and a team-high 34 assists.
With those kinds of numbers it doesn’t figure Henderson is going to get homesick this season.