WOODLAND — The System was running a little slower than expected on Friday night, but that, in itself, might be a testament to how explosive the Davis High boys basketball team actually is.
Employing their trademark run-and-gun offense at the Woodland High gym, the Blue Devils managed to score 86 points against the struggling Wolves. And while that mark, which came in an 86-56 DHS win, would be something to celebrate for most California prep teams, it was almost an underachievement for the fast-paced Devils.
Through 15 games, Davis has been one of the highest scoring teams in the state (90.3 ppg), with its biggest night coming a week ago, when it set a school record for points in a 118-51 thrashing of Burton.
With Woodland coming into Friday night’s game with an overall record of 1-10, it wouldn’t have been absurd to think the Blue Devils (9-6) would be near that mark again.
But the Wolves managed to slow the local attack down by using a more conservative zone scheme, especially in the early stages of the game.
“I think the first half was closer than we wanted (it to be), but that’s what happens to us when teams zone — it slows the pace down,” said DHS head coach Dan Gonzalez. “We just couldn’t get our pace going the way we wanted to.”
Whether the team’s struggle to score points in a halfcourt setting is its Achilles’ Heel or just a small gap in its armor remains to be seen, but it looked like the latter on Friday night.
With fewer fast break opportunities to be had, the Devils relied on their screen game and solid ball movement to create space for their shooters, who capitalized by hitting 16 shots from 3-point range. Hayden Russell led the way for DHS, draining four treys and notching 19 points overall.
Woodland got 32 points from Carson Frank and kept the game within reach until midway through the third quarter, when DHS hit the afterburners. Up only 49-39 at that point, DHS finally got the burst it had been looking for.
Ben Crook, Tommy Slabaugh, Brandon Strong and Russell hit consecutive 3-pointers, before Russell converted on two free throws and Grant Dickerson muscled his way inside for a layup that capped a 16-1 surge.
Frank answered with a 3-pointer before the end of the third period, but the game was all but out of reach. DHS entered the final quarter with a 65-44 lead and only added to it down the stretch.
In the first quarter, the two teams traded a series of turnovers and missed shots until Russell finally slashed through the lane and drew a foul. He knocked down the ensuing free throws for the first points of the game.
From there, the Blue Devils got contributions from everyone on the roster, and led 20-6 after one period. Frank scored 12 points in the second, but it wasn’t enough to keep DHS from leading by 15 at the half.
On the night, Crook (13 points), Strong (11), Kevin Sorensen (11) and Slabaugh (10) joined Russell in double figures, with Crook, Slabaugh and Strong each hitting three treys.
The Devils now have a 10-day break before kicking off their Delta Valley Conference season with a game at Elk Grove. Overall, Gonzalez was content with his team’s performance in nonconference play.
“There are probably a couple of games we wish we would’ve had, but it’s not bad, going in at 9-6,” he said. “Having 10 wins would have been better, but it is what it is and we know what we’ve got ahead of us.”
The DVC opener against the 10-6 Thundering Herd, should provide an opportunity for Gonzalez and Company to get a read on how their high-speed offense will fare against stiffer competition.
— Reach Will Bellamy at firstname.lastname@example.org