Devil girls hope to avoid sleeping in on Saturday

By From page B1 | November 01, 2012

It’s not fair, having to play in Modesto at Johansen High …

While the Davis High girls have to get up before daybreak Saturday and travel almost 100 miles for their first-round playoff game, members of the Downey water polo squad should get an extra two hours curled up in bed.

But that might be the only good news for the Modesto Metro Conference third-place Knights…

Understand that beauty sleep won’t mean much when the first ball is dropped at 8 a.m. — Downey’s opponent is the three-time defending CIF champion and comes roaring into the postseason with a 23-5 mark.

“The last six weeks, we’ve really come together,” says veteran DHS coach Doug Wright. “But for us to win a section title, we’re going to need Colby Stapleton (inside) and Mara (Dominguez) and Heather (Johnson) to be the dominant shooters outside that they have been.

“That said, it is going to take everybody — a full team performance — to get the job done.”

Judging from recent success, that kind of effort is on the agenda.

With a 3-1 record at last weekend’s Northern California Invitational, a second-place finish in their own Davis Fall Classic and a clean slate in conference, Davis looks poised to make a run at a fourth straight crown.

Wright says his crew is relatively healthy after a flu bug hit last week. In earning the No. 1 seed, the coach knows everyone will be looking to upset the perennial champs. But in the past, the Devils haven’t let that bother them much.

In 16 years of Sac-Joaquin Section girls water polo competition, the Blue Devils have won nine of those titles. While four in a row is a stunning accomplishment, DHS once took five straight crowns (2000-04).

The rest of the field knows what it’s up against.

The only thing seemingly working against the Blue Devils is that crack-of-dawn start.  But Wright isn’t overly concerned, with the early start being a first-round game …

“It’s just the way they’ve always done it,” Wright laments. “At some point it would be nice … if they could not worry about playing eight games that first day and four and four in (separate) nights. That would be a little more manageable.”

Davis is expected to arrive around 7 a.m., get in a decent warm-up and be in full championship-run mode by the time the Knights (12-10) hit the pool.

Given the playoff experience of a team like Davis — and its past postseason record — it looks like the best chance Downey will have on Saturday is if the Blue Devils’ alarms don’t go off.

Notes: St. Francis, which was beaten three times during the season by Davis, is the Delta Valley Conference second-place team and will meet Tokay at 3 p.m. in Modesto. The Devils and Troubadors have played in the CIF finals each of the past eight seasons — Davis going 5-3. St. Francis has three section titles and Johansen has the other four. DVC third-place Oak Ridge gets St. Mary’s at 10 a.m. …Wright is recovering from hand surgery after severing a finger tendon in a household accident.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.

Bruce Gallaudet

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