With some combinations, you can’t think of one part without contemplating the other.
At Lee’s Summit North High School, basketball fans have their own special combination in senior guards Javaunte Hawkins and Mikel Henderson, who have formed arguably the best backcourt in the state this season.
Henderson is yin to his best friend Hawkins’ yang, and Broncos coach Mike Hilbert said that transformation has been incredible to watch.
“Everyone knows about Javaunte because he is such a great scorer and makes it look so easy,” said Hilbert, whose 26-3 Broncos meet 23-3 Columbia Rock Bridge at 5:15 Friday in a state final four contest at the John Q. Hammons Arena at Missouri State University in Springfield. “But now that he has gained some confidence, Mikel is a great scoring threat, too. They really complement each other and that all happened last December when Javaunte hurt his wrist and missed a few weeks.”
With this season’s area scoring leader (25.8 points per game) on the bench, Hilbert asked Henderson to be more aggressive and take the ball to the basket last season.
“I think all Mikel needed was the opportunity to gain some confidence and not be in a position where he deferred to Javaunte,” Hilbert said. “He has been a different player, a more complete player and a real scoring threat since December of his junior year.”
And now, the always-smiling senior guard wants to be known as a state champion.
Henderson has been brilliant during the postseason. In a 67-65 sectional win over Blue Springs South, he scored 13 fourth-quarter points and combined with Hawkins (6) to score all 19 points in the final period, as each finished with 27. Henderson hit his last four free throws to seal the victory.
Henderson then scored 21 points to support 24 from Hawkins in the 63-58 overtime state quarterfinal win over William Chrisman.
“Mikel is my brother, we have played against each other or on the same team since we were little kids,” Hawkins said. “And now we’re sharing this season with all our brothers on this team and it’s amazing – but we know we still have a lot of work to do.”
The Broncos were all business Tuesday afternoon as they capped a lengthy practice session with a free throw competition in which Henderson and Hawkins flourished.
“This is all so much fun,” said Henderson, who is averaging 21 points a game in postseason after averaging 15.6 in the regular season. “When we were little kids – real little kids – we all talked about growing up and playing for the Broncos and winning state.
“We were young, but that was our dream. And now, we’re two wins away from making that dream come true.”
He grinned, and added, “And the best thing about it – I’m doing with a bunch of guys I love playing with, hanging out with and, most important right now, winning with.”