YOLO COUNTY NEWS

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DHS girls get good grades amidst turmoil

By January 5, 2011

Enterprise staff writer

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Time to play basketball again …

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Roughly halfway through the 2010-11 campaign, the Lady Blue Devils are light years ahead of last season\’s 8-19 performance.

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Depth, defense and a cushy early schedule have helped the Davis forge a 9-5 record in what had deteriorated into a stormy end-of-2010 meltdown in which the Devil coach Jeff Christian was removed by school and district officials.

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Tonight, when DHS takes the court against long-time rival St. Francis, the game ushers in the Dennis Foster era — at least for now.

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As in any classroom, when teachers change mid-course, there\’s a lot of acclimation. Aside from wins and losses, Foster — who led the boys basketball team at Natomas for eight years — has a main charge of being a calming influence.

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En route, Foster, who doubles as the school\’s athletic director, wouldn\’t mind if his girls put up a few more wins and competed for the Delta Valley Conference crown. Davis opens DVC play on Tuesday at Grant.

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But this is a progress report. Except for losing its “teacher,” the Blue Devils — at least on the scoreboard — seemed headed in the right direction.

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Offense — B+

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Already DHS has scored 60 points or more five times. It turned the trick only once a year ago.

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Senior twins Malika and Khaliya Wilkins seem to trade places as game-high scorers, with Malika Wilkins averaging almost 14 points a game. Khaliya Wilkins had been playing her best basketball through last Tuesday\’s contest.

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But unlike 2009-10, this Davis team is no longer a two-trick pony. Sophomore guard Ali Campos has provided an attack mentality, can run the offense and has found an ally in classmate Ashleigh Vandenbrink inside.

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Vandenbrink has had a handful of games with double-digit rebounds and seems to be getting more comfortable offensively.

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With senior center Sarah Sadler getting healthy and Sara Sousa finding her shooting range, the Devils are in position to put up a lot of points.

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Defense — B

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Which leads us to stopping the other team …

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This grade could\’ve been higher, but DHS spit the bit in losses to Vanden (73-36) and Clayton Valley (64-37). Granted both schools have outstanding teams, but the defensive efforts were suspect.

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Foster and his girls will need to stop DVC schools with similar high-octane offenses — namely Franklin and Monterey Trail.

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Basics — B

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What was once a 16-person roster, is now down to 13 girls with the transfer of freshmen Jordan Banwarth and Capriana Christian to the DHS junior varsity.

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The move, to give Banwarth and Christian to get more playing time, speaks volumes of the fundamental abilities of the Blue Devils. There was little question the Wilkinses would have starting roles, but with Campos, Sousa and Vandenbrink emerging and Sadler and Lauren Blackwell showing their experience, executing the basics has been an area of vast improvement.

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Record — B

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From 8-19 to 9-5. The improvement is a visual that needs little explanation.

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