If a basketball coach was constructing a team designed specifically for early-season tournament action, the roster would look pretty much like the one the Davis High girls sport this winter.
And with the Lady Blue Devils set to begin hosting the Dorothy Speck Memorial Tournament on Thursday, that has third-year head coach Karen Foster feeling confident.
DHS made it to the finals of its tourney last season before falling to powerful Miramonte, a squad that isn’t in this year’s field.
In an early-season event like this, an experienced squad that is used to playing together can have a leg up on opponents who are just starting to gel. And it just so happens that all five Devil starters were key contributors a year ago and have been working together even longer in club and youth settings.
Another key to success in a tournament like the Speck, where teams play three games in three days, is to have a squad bursting with youthful energy. The locals also fit that bill as they feature 10 sophomores and juniors among their 12 players. And both seniors come off the bench.
“We are a young team but they have all played together for a long time,” Foster said. “So we just have to make sure to keep up our mental toughness.
“There are a lot of good teams coming but I feel we are going to do well. The girls are ready.”
Those teams coming in include Davis’ first-night opponent, Granite Bay, which had a tough season in 2013-14.
But after a dominating 81-64 win over Vacaville in a CIF Foundation Game Monday that wasn’t even that close, the Lady Blue Devils are excited for their first real test. If that doesn’t come from the Grizzlies on Thursday, the winner of a Speck first-round matchup between West Campus and Campolindo awaits.
Other tournament contests, all of which are at The Cage, feature Chico vs. Brookside Christian at 3:30 p.m. and Rio Americano vs. Carondelet at 5 p.m.
If DHS beats Granite Bay, it will play on Friday at 8 p.m., while a loss would send the Devils to the consolation bracket for a 5 p.m. game.
Saturday’s schedule begins at 10 a.m. and concludes with the championship contest at 3:30 p.m.
So what does Davis have to do to return to the finals?
“We need to outrebound the teams we play,” Foster said. “Emma (Stenz), Caitlin (Mazzoleni) and Rachael (Allison) have got to control the boards.
“(On Monday) we moved the ball well and finished at the hoop.”
In that victory, junior Mazzoleni scored 20 points to lead the locals, while classmate Stenz had 12 points and 15 rebounds. Allison, a sophomore, added 16 points and junior Sarah Bloise canned 10.
Sophomore point guard Anna Belenis ran the Blue Devils’ offense to perfection, finishing with 11 assists.