ALL SPORTS NOTEBOOK: Salpointe’s Henderson on Canada U18 National Team invite list

Taliyah Henderson, one of the top Class of 2025 talents in the nation, hopes to represent Team Canada in the FIBA U18 Women’s AmeriCup 2024 to be held from June 17-23 at the Coliseo Bicentenario Arena in Bucaramanga, Colombia (Andy Morales/AllSportsTucson.com)

Salpointe Class of 2025 prospect Taliyah Henderson, on course to be the most highly sought recruits in Southern Arizona history, is one of 15 players who is part of Team Canada’s U18 training camp invite list that was released last week. Henderson, playing for the Jason Kidd Select 17U AAU team this summer, is ranked No. 34 nationally by ESPN among Class of 2025 players. She picked up scholarship offers recently from Tennessee, Maryland (coached by former Arizona standout Brenda Frese) and North Carolina. She already has numerous offers from Power 5 programs, including one from Adia Barnes at Arizona. Some of the others are Oregon, Utah, Arizona State, Illinois, Washington, Washington State, Iowa, BYU, San Diego, Florida State, Grand Canyon, UNLV and Utah Valley. …

Henderson has dual citizenship because she was born in the Vancouver suburb of Langley, where her mother Danica is from. “Ever since I was little, it was always a goal to either run (track) or play ( basketball) for either country (Canada or U.S.) and eventually go to the Olympics,” Henderson told me last year when she was invited to Team Canada’s camp. “I used to talk about it with my family from Canada when we would go to visit them and it was always the end goal for me. It just seems so surreal for it to be closer to a reality than a dream now and it’s really my motivation moving forward everyday.” Henderson suffered a knee injury last summer that preempted her from continuing to participate with the Canadian team. She missed the first half of Salpointe’s 2023-24 season rehabilitating the knee. “It has definitely been a journey since last year,” Henderson commented to me Saturday. “After getting injured last summer and working tirelessly to get back to playing the high school season and be better than I was before, switching club teams and a very busy spring, I feel very fortunate to be invited back to Team Canada after making it through the first round. If I make the final round, it will be such an honor to compete for Canada in the AmeriCup tournament and hopefully qualify for Worlds next summer. Wearing Canada across my chest means so much to my family and me. Obviously, I was born there and half my family still lives there, but my mom was a part of the junior Canadian program and some of the program directors when she played are still a part of the program, so that’s pretty cool. I’m definitely not taking a single part of this journey for granted and enjoying the process.”

In addition to being an ideal student and ambassador of Salpointe’s program and Southern Arizona basketball in general, Henderson is a 6-foot-1 talent who can play all five positions on both sides of the court. She is aiming to participate in the FIBA U18 Women’s AmeriCup 2024 to be held from June 17-23 at the Coliseo Bicentenario Arena in Bucaramanga, Colombia. The field will comprise the top eight teams from across the Americas zone. Canada was drawn into Group A and will compete against Argentina (June 17), Colombia (June 18), and the Dominican Republic (June 19) in Group Phase action. All eight teams participating in the event will advance to the quarterfinals, followed by the semifinals and medal-round games. The top four teams in the event will successfully qualify for next summer’s FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup 2025. …

Longtime Mountain View girls basketball coach Niki Melchiori has decided to retire from coaching after leading her alma mater for 23 years. She finished with 260 career victories. “I decided to step away from coaching,” she stated. “I have been there for 26 years (including as an assistant). I would like to do some other things.  I will be teaching for a couple more years.” … Former Walden Grove boys basketball coach Jacob Montano is now the head coach of Vista Grande High School in Casa Grande. … Dennis Bene‘s Salpointe coaching disciples Al Alexander of Sahuaro and Zachary Neveleff of Tucson High coach in different conferences — Sahuaro in 4A and Tucson 5A. That makes it plausible for Bene to offer consulting help to both coaches. He spent time with both coaches and schools during the spring. … Keep an eye on Tucson this fall when Neveleff, Salpointe’s former running backs coach, coaches the Badgers in his second season. The Badgers ended last season with a four-game winning streak to finish 5-5. They have junior quarterback Derek Mesa, who experienced considerable playing time at the varsity level his first two seasons. During a recent Western New Mexico camp, Mesa (6-foot and 180 pounds) earned MVP honors. …

With the calendar turning to June, high school boys and girls basketball and seven-on-seven football will have many events that are sanctioned by the AIA. The annual Victory Sports Foundation Passing (7 on 7) and Big Man Tournament will be held Wednesday and Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Kino Sports South Complex. A total of 35 local high schools are participating, including schools with new head coaches, such as Catalina Foothills’ Greg McKinstry III, who was hired in April after former coach Daniel Sainz resigned due to his commitment with the Air National Guard. McKinstry comes from Catalina, where he got the most out of his players at the struggling Trojan program. He got help enhancing the dilapidated weight room at Catalina with donated equipment from the Arizona Cardinals. He served as coach and counselor to many of the players at Catalina, making sure they were on track with their studies and future ambitions. Catalina Foothills made a tremendous hire acquiring him. … Other Southern Arizona new hires with their teams during the 7-on-7 schedule this month include Scott McKee with defending state champion CDO, Sly Lewis of Pueblo, Jake Allen of Sahuarita, Paul Tripp of Cholla, Chris Rasmussen of Benson, Johnny Chan of Rincon/University and Carlos Duran of Rio Rico. …


Arizona’s 7-0 loss to Dallas Baptist on Saturday at Hi Corbett Field extended the Wildcats’ dubious streak of not advancing to the next round to 15 times in the NCAA tournament — either to the Super Regionals since that round was introduced in 1999 or to the College World Series before that — after losing the first game. That dates to 1961. The last and only time Arizona lost the first game in the NCAA tournament and advanced was in 1958, when the Wildcats rallied for two wins after they were defeated by Texas in the first game of a best-of-three series in the District 6 playoffs at Wildcat Field. Arizona went on to the College World Series (where it was eliminated after losses to Clemson and USC). … Hard to believe Chip Hale joins a list of his mentor Jerry Kindall, Jerry Stitt, Andy Lopez and Jay Johnson as Arizona coaches who could not advance after losing the first game. Records when not advancing following a loss in the opening round starting when Sancet was able to do so in 1958: Sancet 1-2, Kindall 0-6, Stitt 0-1, Lopez 0-2, Johnson 0-1 and Hale 0-3. … Since 1950, Arizona has started with a win in the NCAA tournament 23 times. It has advanced to the College World Series 17 of those times. That’s a percentage of 73.9 (almost three out of four times). Granted, eight of those times was under Sancet when Arizona played a district best-of-three series to advance to the CWS. Since Kindall started coaching Arizona in 1973, Arizona has advanced to the CWS nine out of 14 times it has won the first game in the NCAA tournament. It’s obvious winning that first game is very significant for confidence and to avoid having to play more games while climbing out of the elimination bracket. …

Three of the best high school football players to come out of Southern Arizona — running back Ka’Deem Carey of CDO and receivers Stanley Berryhill III and Jeff Cotton of Mountain View — will be on the same field next Sunday when Carey and the Toronto Argonauts host Berryhill, Cotton and the British Columbia Lions in the CFL opener. Carey, a Class of 2011 graduate at CDO, signed with the Toronto Argonauts in April after a successful stint with the Calgary Stampeders. Berryhill and Cotton are in their first seasons in the CFL with the British Columbia Lions. … Carey, 31, had an injury-plagued 2023 season with Calgary, where he rushed for 476 yards with 21 receptions for 156 yards in nine games. In 2022, Carey was a CFL All-Star after leading the league inrushing yards (1,088) and touchdowns (10) while adding 28 catches for 248 yards in 14 games. He was also a CFL Western All-Star in 2021 after finishing second in the league in rushing yards (869) and rushing touchdowns (7). His CFL started in 2018 with Calgary, where he won the Grey Cup in his first season. The Chicago Bears drafted Carey in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. In three seasons with Chicago, he tallied 443 rushing yards and two touchdowns. His one-year deal with Toronto laced with incentives is feportedly worth approximately $130,000. … Berryhill played with Cotton in 2014 at Mountain View when Berryhill was a freshman and Cotton a senior. Berryhill went on to play with the Mountain Lions under Bam McRae through 2016. He played his senior year in 2017 at Orange (Calif.) Lutheran High School. Berryhill, a former Arizona standout, and Cotton, who played at Pima College and Idaho, signed with the Detroit Lions last December. Berryhill, who earned a scholarship at Arizona after beginning his career there as a walk-on, played briefly with the Lions in his rookie season in 2022. He was one of multiple Lions to be suspended before last season by the NFL for violating the league’s gambling policies. He was waived by the team shortly thereafter. The NFL and NFLPA agreed to adjust the league’s gambling policy, and Berryhill’s suspension lasted only four weeks and not six. “No matter who I’m out there with, I’m going to go as hard as I can,” Berryhill said in a press conference at British Columbia about being versatile and playing where he’s needed, adjusting to the Canadian game, and his CFL camp experience. … Cotton spent portions of of the 2022 NFL season on the practice roster with the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers. He was a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2021 and dressed for one regular season game. He originally entered the league as a member of the Los Angeles Chargers in 2020.


ALLSPORTSTUCSON.com publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for CollegeAD.com, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports, TucsonCitizen.com, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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