FAIR OAKS — It was a devilish good time for Davis High basketball fans as the locals exploded for 40 first-quarter points en route to a 101-69 victory over Yuba City in the first round of the Bronco Invitational on Thursday afternoon.
Playing at Bella Vista, DHS was paced by 23 points from Hayden Russell, 19 points by Brandon Strong and another dazzling inside performance from Kevin Sorensen, who finished with 17 points and a game-high eight rebounds.
Hitting 41 percent from the field — including 15-of-37 from 3-point range — the run-and-shoot Blue Devil offense gave Dan Gonzalez the biggest single-period tally in his 15-year coaching career.
“Monday’s (exhibition win over Vacaville) was more of a feel-it-out game, see where we are,” Gonzalez said. “See which guys fit. This was the first game where I was trying certain groups deliberately.
“We just have to keep the chemistry going, keep the energy up. We believe we’re going to have to take the energy out of the other team early.”
No problem, if Thursday’s blowout was an indication of things to come.
Sorensen, working against 6-foot-6 Honker center Aran Dhillon, got help from Russell and Grant Dickerson in making the senior’s life in the paint miserable.
Sorensen broke loose baseline a couple of times early, followed by Brett Bloomfield’s steal and bucket — which came just before Strong hit one of his first-period trio of treys (this one off of a nifty assist from Matt Michael).
When the Devil trap press forced the sixth Yuba turnover, Russell’s 3-pointer made things 21-9 with only 4:09 gone in the game.
As Davis fans know after a full season of former assistant coach Gary Smith’s The System, DHS plays pell-mell-paced basketball — often taking 90 or more shots.
However, this winter Gonzalez amended the scheme by insisting on more defense and — at least on Thursday — letting top guns like Sorensen and Russell have more court time.
Is that a trend for 2012-13? Gonzalez isn’t ready to admit such a huge departure from last season’s hockey-like line changes that kept players on the court sometimes only for 45 seconds.
“The best-case scenario for us will be when my juniors get used to the varsity-level game,” says the coach. “Then it’s going to be a little more even in terms of (playing) time. But having Kevin and Hayden as a luxury for extra time is just great for us.”
From the looks of things, that 11th-grader transition is going to be pretty quick.
Strong, who hit 4-of-7 from beyond the arc, was a varsity member for half the season a year ago. Bloomfield — whose seven points in 79 seconds just before halftime turned the Vacaville contest around — continued his sharp play against Yuba City with four steals, four assists, two rebounds and seven points.
Meanwhile, junior guard Ben Crook hit both of his 3-point tries and set up a couple of other teammates for baskets.
There was contribution throughout the roster as 11 Blue Devils scored. James Kilkenny had 11 points (three treys), three rebounds, an assist and a block. His points all came in the first half as the starting guard was a key ingredient in the fuel that burned Yuba City down by intermission.
Dickerson again was steady with four steals, four assists, four rebounds and seven points.
Along the way, Davis outboarded the Honkers, 45-39. The Devils forced 24 turnovers and committed 22 of their own.
Next, DHS plays host Bella Vista, which beat Rosemont in Thursday’s finale. Game time is expected to be around 8:30 p.m. Friday.
Notes: While the season is young, Yuba City came into the game with court cred. The Honkers returned eight players from last year’s 18-10 playoff team. Over the past four seasons, Division III Yuba is 85-29. … There was a scare for Devil fans in the second quarter: Sorensen scored baseline (where else?) off a slick Russell feed — then collapsed in pain. The 6-foot-4 senior immediately went to the sideline with an upper right leg cramp. He was back in by halftime and Sorensen said afterward he was fine. … Bloomfield’s driving basket with 18 seconds left broke the century mark for Davis.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.