No, that’s not the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange at opening bell …
It’s the scorers’ table at a Davis High boys basketball game.
Look closely. Whether it’s Dan Ariola or Pete Fuqua working the scoreboard, with the Blue Devils averaging 90.3 ppg, special attention is brought to the normally mundane task of pushing point buttons.
Then there’s the announcer, Mike Satre. Usually cocksure of his calls, even the unflappable Satre has been caught asking, “Who scored that basket? Where did the assist come from?”
Satre has teamed up with a spotter — Logan Kittle on most nights — to help stay with the pace that has brought statewide attention to DHS basketball. According to CalHi Sports, the Devils are the top-scoring prep team in California.
And try to keep statistics …
Parents and student volunteers are sprinkled through the stands, appointed by DHS coach Dan Gonzalez to provide assists, rebounds, steals, turnovers, shots, etc.
So quick is the action, give the same task to three different statisticians and odds are you’ll get three different interpretations.
Considering that I keep all these stats during the game (frequently comparing notes with others during and after a game), I look back fondly to just three years ago when Davis was winning games with a total of 45 points. Now those rascals score 45 in quarter.
Even officials laugh, when they can catch their breath.
“I consider this my workout for the week,” one referee told me during the Les Curry Invitational. “One Davis game equals three trips to the gym.”
But all that action is peripheral to the madness on the court …
Gonzalez, whose team twice this campaign has set school records for points in a game — most recently 118 against Burton last Friday in Salinas — credits improved defense as one of the reasons for in-the-clouds point totals.
Improved defense? Really? Going 8-6 thus far, the Blue Devils have coughed up 1,111 points (79 ppg).
It’s the worst scoring defense among the Delta Valley Conference teams (by far). But in this basketball fairy tale that is called The System, the opponents’ lofty figures pale by comparison to Davis’ average. However, that “awful” defense — which its coach says is improved — can be explained away …
The Devils, once they launch a trey, send almost everybody to the offensive hoop. Normally the result is mixed: Davis either gets an offensive board and another look (usually a good one) or their foes get a four-on-one fast-break opportunity. Only three times this season has DHS had a better floor-shooting percentage than its opponents.
The bottom line? Euphoria when it’s going as planned (like Davis’ 23-for-41 from beyond the arc in Friday’s 118-51 rout of Burton). When it’s not? A loss that a team like Armijo can capitalize on. On Dec 7 — another date to live in infamy — the Devils went 10-for-54 from 3-point land. The result was a 102-92 Indian victory.
Nonetheless, the frenzy that is Davis High boys basketball allowed the locals to be in a game with almost 200 total points scored despite missing 42 trey attempts.
I know. I’m scratching my head, too.
Will all this mean playoffs?
There was some good news early. The Blue Devils topped DVC powerhouse Franklin, 87-79, in the Bella Vista tourney. Since then, the Wildcats are 4-4 — their last two losses by a total of three points.
Overall (including DHS), the conference has a so-so combined mark of 42-34. But only Franklin (5-6) has a losing record.
When DVC play opens with Davis hosting Elk Grove (8-5) on Jan. 9, the Devils should be considered a favorite for not only a playoff spot, but maybe the first league crown in Gonzalez’s 15 years at the helm.
Regardless of how the rest of this season goes, it is worth the price of admission to watch guard Hayden Russell direct the troops, see inside threat Kevin Sorensen glide along the baseline or enjoy wing Grant Dickerson’s no-tolerance defense.
The breakneck pace is interesting and the dedication of Gonzalez’s 16 guys is inspiring.
It’s also interesting to note, on the five nights that saw both the Kings and Blue Devils play this month, DHS has outscored Sacramento three times.
That speaks volumes about which is the better ticket.
While I Have You Here: The mad scientist who came up with all this run-and-shoot, take-no-prisoners basketball — former University of Redlands coach Gary Smith — is now working with Vacaville High girls and ex-DHS girls mentor Jeff Christian.
Since the retired grandpa (who now lives in Davis) has lent a hand with the Bulldogs, VHS has added 12 ppg to the scoreboard.
Speaking of scoreboard …
Don’t expect Friday night’s nonleague boys game at Woodland (7 p.m.) to be stuck in our long-term memories.
The Wolves are 1-10. Add the last three seasons to the total and Woodland is 13-78. DHS beat its cross-county rivals 90-50 last winter. At the time, the Devils were just getting used to their new-fangled offense.
One has to go back to 2008-09 for a winning Wolves campaign. It hasn’t been since Dec. 4, 2007, that Woodland has beaten Davis (56-39).
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.