For the first time since the Bill Cartwright days of the mid-1970s, I’m rooting for Elk Grove on Friday.
The not-so-Thundering Herd (13-13, 3-6) goes on the road for its season finale with Grant.
The Pacers are sitting atop the Delta Valley Conference with a 7-2 mark (19-7 overall), but a loss to The Grove — coupled with a Davis win at Franklin — would give our Blue Devil boys a share of the league title.
DHS (16-7, 6-3) is assured a playoff berth, thanks to Wednesday’s nerve-jangling 67-65 win over Monterey Trail. However, a share of the title should provide the 13th-ranked Devils a better first-round seeding — thus avoiding regional powerhouses early.
But Devil Nation shouldn’t hold its breath for any Elk Grove help. Grant scattered The Herd, 48-31, last month. And Franklin will be trying to hold its No. 11 position in the power rankings (the top 16 in those Sac-Joaquin Section ratings get hall passes to the postseason). At 13-13, the Wildcats won’t make it on number of wins.
Davis is 1-6 at Franklin, 2-12 overall against the ‘Cats and has gone 1-1 in encounters with FHS this winter.
Turlock, Tokay, West and Chavez are breathing down DHS’ neck in the power rankings, while No. 15 Bear Creek took a step backwards in losing on Wednesday.
The Blue Devils don’t want a bad seed — or the nightmare of a play-in game.
“A win would move us even farther up (in the rankings),” DHS coach Dan Gonzalez told me after the electric-and-chippy Monterey Trail game. “Who knows to what spot? I think that’s the key in the playoffs, though … you want to get away from (No. 1) Sheldon, get away from (No. 3) Pleasant Grove … some of those very-top teams.”
The final power rankings will be released Wednesday. At the same time, playoff brackets will be announced. If the Davis boys have an out-bracket (play-in) game, it will take place next Friday. Otherwise, the official Round 1 is Feb. 20.
Remember, the Lady Blue Devils (21-4, 8-1) are ranked seventh and need only a win over Elk Grove (9-17, 2-7) at Senior Night in The Cage on Friday to ensure themselves a first-round playoff game on Feb. 20. Game time for both regular-season finales is 7 p.m.
Who woulda thought DHS would be such a basketball town?
Speaking of the boys’ Wednesday win over Monterey Trail … there’s been fallout.
After a matchup that saw two intentional fouls called, a pair of technicals against opposing coaches and tempers flare at the conclusion, it’s been confirmed that Devil forward Kevin Sorensen has been suspended for one game due to his comment to Mustang coach Ken Manfredi, which resulted in the longtime Trail coach getting a suspect T-foul.
Manfredi, the only basketball coach Monterey Trail has ever known, played for UC Davis in the mid-1990s. He’s a stickler for student-athlete character and, although we didn’t chat after the game, I’m sure he felt bad about the rocky ending of Wednesday’s game. Just as Gonzalez did.
“We talked about it … about the language. About keeping our (cool),” Gonzalez reported.
Manfredi, whose boys haven’t won a conference game this season, were brilliant in their plan of attack — slowing the pace, spreading the court and forcing the Blue Devils to play a waiting game. It was understandable that emotions bubbled over — DHS with its late sense of urgency and the Mustangs bitterly disappointed that another one slipped away.
But DHS Athletic Director Dennis Foster, who with a Davis police officer stepped between Manfredi and Gonzalez during the postgame “congratulations,” said bad sportsmanship was shown on both sides Wednesday.
While Foster wouldn’t confirm, or comment, on Sorensen’s one-game vacation, he did praise the crowd of almost 600 — especially the student section — for its decorum after the game, saying he was “proud” that the fans celebrated the win and didn’t rub the loss into Monterey Trail’s bruised psyche.
Sorensen has been a key to Davis’ high-flying, 88-points-a-night offense. Fortunately for the senior, his school-imposed ouster will not impact postseason games.
Sorensen is a guy who has excelled on the gridiron and in track and field, and this season, his contributions on the court have frequently carried the Blue Devils.
Generally a good-natured guy, Sorensen’s deep investment in the games often manifests itself in the face of his opponents. Wednesday was one such night.
The 6-foot-3 athlete will take his ever-blossoming athletic talent to one of three schools — BYU, Southern Utah or UC Davis — next fall, hoping to play football.
While I Have You Here: The annual Davis High Football Crab Feed will take place Saturday at the Veterans’ Memorial Center.
“This is a wonderful event that is the major fundraiser for the Blue Devil football program,” varsity coach Steve Smyte says. “There will be great live and silent auction items available, door and raffle prizes and appearances will be made by local coaching legends.”
Recently retired UC Davis football coach Bob Biggs and storied former Aggie coach Jim Sochor will be in attendance.
“This is the first high school function that Biggs can attend and not get into NCAA trouble,” Smyte said, laughing.
Rebecca Foster has been hard at work coordinating the event and tells me there are “just a few tickets left … almost a sellout.”
To attend what promises to be another fun night, call Foster at 916-402-1148 or email her at [email protected].
Tickets are $45 and include crab, bread and salad (in the price, adult beverages are included for, well, adults).
“The party gets started at 6:30 p.m. with dinner at 7:30 p.m.,” Smyte continued. “This event has truly been one of the premiere, fun events year after year.”
See ya Saturday.
— Bruce Gallaudet is a staff writer at The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at [email protected] or 530-747-8047.