Mandan's rich history in girls basketball did not spook Shaun Henderson.
The Braves' nine state championships are tied for the most in the state. Shanley also has nine.
Henderson embraces the challenge of trying to win No. 10. He's the person in charge to do so now. The Huron, S.D., native was announced as the team's new head coach on Friday.
"The tradition of Mandan girls basketball and knowing the pressure that comes with it. All the championships and the expectations people have for the program to produce every year really attracted me," Henderson said. "I'm excited about it."
Henderson spent last season as an assistant coach for the Braves under Abby Thomas, who stepped down as head coach in July after six seasons. Previously, Henderson was head coach of the Solen boys basketball team in 2018-19.
"Last season was my first year getting to coach girls and it was a great experience," Henderson said. "Getting to learn from Abby, to see how she handles players and situations was very beneficial. She was a great mentor for me."
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Henderson, 29, came to Bismarck as a student at the University of Mary in 2009 and has been here ever since. He earned bachelor's degrees in physical education & health and elementary education from U-Mary in 2013 and Western Governors University in 2020. He also has a minor in coaching. He works as a crop adjuster and as a substitute teacher.
Additionally, he is a basketball skills trainer with I'm Possible Training North Dakota.
"Shaun’s head coaching experience, along with being familiar with the girls’ basketball program and WDA were important as we made a decision for the position," Mandan athletic director Mark Wiest said. "Shaun also impressed us with his vision on how he wants to build the program."
Henderson enjoyed his first year coaching girls.
"Obviously there are differences in terms of the physicality of how the game is played," he said. "With girls, they follow through with the offense more. Boys tend to think they take their man off the dribble anytime whereas girls will run through the play almost to a fault at times.
"Girls listen better."
The Braves advanced to the third-place game at the state Class A tournament last season. However, the game was never played as the tournament was canceled on the Friday of the three-day event in Fargo due to the pandemic.
"We're really hoping nothing happens with volleyball and football and we'll be able to have a season," he said.
Wiest is confident Henderson is the right person to coach the Braves into the future.
"Shaun enjoys teaching the game and he is also an excellent skill-developer," the Mandan AD said. "Along with a strong background in X's and O's, he understands the importance of building positive relationships with student-athletes. He is excited to continue to build on what Abby had established."
Henderson is optimistic about what's ahead.
"We have pretty good numbers. A lot of really promising young players coming up," he said. "We lost some excellent players off last year's team. We're going to be pretty young and inexperienced, but we're going to be athletic."
Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org