Draw smiley faces on the basketballs — and put them away.
Doing just enough against a struggling Elk Grove team, the Davis High boys basketball team ended a disappointing season with a 51-45 win over the Thundering Herd before 420 appreciative fans at home on Friday.
On Senior Night, the Blue Devils jumped off to a 13-2 first-period lead and never looked back. DHS finished 10-16 overall and 3-7 in Delta Valley Conference play.
“We’re not going to dwell on records,” said Dan Gonzalez, as his 11th season as the Devils’ coach came to a close. “With all our ups and downs, the guys never quit — I know they didn’t. They wanted to go to the playoffs this year, and that was disappointing that we won’t.”
Gonzalez had his five seniors open the game and play the bulk of the minutes. For normal starters Graham McDaniel, Tyler DeLaughder, Bryce Thompson and Tim Mohr, it was business as usual. For reserve 12th-grader Brandon Hassid, it was a special night.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” Hassid said after the game, smiling like he’d just won a championship. “It showed that all the effort I’ve done has paid off. I was happy, especially since we got the win.”
While Hassid didn’t score, he helped Davis play a blanket defense that put the game out of reach early.
Elk Grove (2-23, 0-10) came out ice-cold in the opening eight minutes, missing six of its first seven shots. Meanwhile, Mohr — saying goodbye to an injury-plagued final campaign — scored the Blue Devils’ first seven points.
When Hassid used his start to force a turnover and collect two of his three rebounds in those opening minutes, it led to a Mohr bucket, two Tyler Sousa free throws and a McDaniel basket.
After the 13-2 outburst, it was steady as she goes for the locals, who led 21-12 at intermission and 32-22 after three periods before closing out The Grove by a six-point final margin that made the game seem competitive.
It wasn’t …
At one point, DHS was outrebounding Elk Grove, 23-6. In the first half, Davis had three turnovers to 11 for its guests. The Blue Devils finished with 58 shots to just 33 for The Herd.
The Blue Devils fashioned second-half leads of 28-14 and 41-27.
So why only six points up at the horn?
Three late Elk Grove 3-pointers did some damage in the final 80 seconds … and another woeful shooting night saw the Devils make only 18 of those 58 attempts (31 percent).
Because the team made only one of every three shots during the season, Gonzalez admits he’ll sit down with his staff and rethink the school’s methodical offense for next winter.
“Yeah, we’re going to talk it over because we obviously have a lot of shooters coming up,” Gonzalez explained. “And probably a little more ball-handling. We don’t get any bigger, but we’ll take a look at everything.”
Gonzalez’s program has a junior varsity team (21-6) that averaged over 70 points a game.
Running a slash-and-burn offense created by former University of Redlands coaching legend Gary Smith (who now lives in Davis and assists JV coach Bob Silva), that collection of freshmen and sophomores could create a log jam at varsity level next season.
But on Friday, all eyes were on the Davis seniors — and they delivered.
Mohr, who suffered a broken wrist and a handful of bloody noses this season, took a couple of hard falls again Friday — but survived to score 14 points, collect seven rebounds and hand out an assist.
Thompson, the long-range gunner, hit 5-of-18 attempts for 13 points. Thompson grabbed six boards and dished out two assists to Mohr.
McDaniel had a game-high three assists, played lights-out defense and tallied nine points.
Notes: The Davis High basketball banquet will be Monday, March 7, at the El Macero Country Club. … Franklin wrapped up the DVC crown with a 50-43 victory over Laguna Creek on Friday. The No. 2-ranked Wildcats are 22-5 and 10-0 in league. … DHS Vice Principal Tom McHale and Davis schools Superintendent Winfred Roberson joined Devil coaches in greeting the five seniors and their families before Friday’s action. … McDaniel, DeLaughder, Hassid, Mohr and Thompson created a banner that thanked coaches Silva, Gonzalez and varsity assistants George Sousa and Jean Gelpi. The banner read: “Your support, encouragement and devotion have given us values that will last throughout our lives.” Gonzalez acknowledged, “How very special that tribute is to all of us.” … Hassid will choose between UC Davis and UCLA for his college days.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8047. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com