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Blue Devil girls basketball is a Speck-tator sport

By December 7, 2010

Enterprise staff writer

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OK, now the fun starts …

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After opening the regular season with 53- and 42-point blowouts against Yuba City and Woodland, the Davis High girls basketball team is about to get some competition.

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As the 38th annual Dorothy Speck Memorial Tournament unfolds, starting Thursday, head coach Jeff Christian\’s host Blue Devils are going to know a lot more about just how good they are.

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“Vanden and Lincoln of Stockton are going to be two of the top teams,”

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sixth-year mentor Christian says. “Both teams are coached well, play great team basketball and have players that can do some amazing things on the court.”

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Vanden (2-1) and Stockton (2-0) met in last year\’s cliff-hanging Speck finale with the Trojans nipping the Vikings, 42-41.

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The year before it was VHS\’ turn to win the tournament.

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This season, Christian has again set things up so local fans are assured a three-day basketball feast with some of Northern California\’s best teams in attendance. No, national power St. Mary\’s isn\’t invited (nor is it on the Davis schedule down the road). However, aside from the Devils (8-19) and their first-round opponent Hogan (1-21), the other six teams in the Speck had a

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combined mark of 125-50 in 2009-10.

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“The tournament is up for grabs. Whoever can bring their focus and get it done for three consecutive days will come away as (champs),” Christian continued.

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Rounding out the eight-team gathering is Christian Brothers (2-1), Chico (2-1), Woodcreek (2-1) and Vacaville (1-1).

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As most coaches do when bracketing their own tournaments, Christian aligned his team with events most challenged entry, Hogan (1-1). But note: a recent 40-36 win over Cordova is a ray of light for a school that\’s 5-40 over the last two seasons.

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Sure, Vanden and Stockton stand out, but after two weeks of play, nobody has a handle on who the Lady Blue Devils are.

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In early-season thrashings of the Honkers and Wolves, senior sisters Khaliya and Malika Wilkins led early charges on which DHS reserves built.

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Neither Wilkins — the twin engines that drive the 2010 version of the Devils — has been asked to play a whole game.

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Davis starters have built 27-0 and 33-9 leads in their two games. Khaliya Wilkins is averaging about 10 points a game, while Malika Wilkins has 30 points total.

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“We really are focused on trying to get better with each and every day,” Christian explains. “I think this team is doing a fantastic job of setting a standard of consistent work — 100 percent effort, 100 percent of the time.

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“All 16 players are finding a way to help the team.”

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With a team that features two freshman and four sophomores, Christian also is pleased with how the girls are starting to identify their roles and “utilizing their strengths for the benefit of the team.”

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Here\’s a look at Thursday\’s opening-round Speck Tournament games at The Cage on campus at DHS:

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Chico vs. Lincoln (3:30 p.m.) — Led by swingmen Tiffany Cho and Jordan Mootz (10 ppg each), CHS is coming off a league crown and a 19-8 season. Nyre Harris, an All-Speck selection a year ago, paces the Trojans, who are coming off a 71-14 victory over Cordova.

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Woodcreek vs. Christian Brothers (5 p.m.) — Fia Hoskinson, a powerful 5-foot-9 junior forward, is \’Creek\’s go-to girl. She\’s averaging 17 points a game for the Timberwolves, who lost 49-39 to Chico last week. An inside-outside combination of Ishian Burch (10.3 ppg) and Grace Kellison (10) have fueled CBS.

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Vacaville vs. Vanden (6:30 p.m.) — Vikes\’ post Erimma Amarikwa is coming off a 30-point, 12-rebound outing in a 66-50 win over Analy (Santa Rosa). Vanden went 26-6 last season, losing in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs to St. Mary\’s, then in the state tourney to Bishop O\’Dowd. Vacaville dropped a 56-52 Foundation Game to Davis on Nov. 30. The Bulldogs were 18-8 last winter.

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Davis vs. Hogan (8 p.m.) — In a rematch of a 2009-10 first-round game, the Spartans are expected to be a little stronger inside with center Jasnique Porter averaging 10 points a game. While the rest of the offense has struggled, Ebonecia Roberts, Jessica Garcia and Kelsey Alana have each been putting in four a night. The Devils beat Hogan last year, 47-17. The Spartans are five years removed from playing in the Sac-Joaquin Section D-III finals.

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Notes: “It\’s an honor to host the Dorothy Speck Memorial Tournament,” Christian adds. “Our families and staff are looking forward to serving the teams and their fans.” … DHS last won the Speck in 2006 when it beat then-No. 12 nationally ranked St. Ignatius (San Francisco), 51-49. Becca Ferrick hit two free throws with five seconds left to win for the Devils. Tournament MVP Molly Collins — now playing at Chico State — had 25 points for DHS.

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— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or (530) 747-8047. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com

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