Sometimes all it takes is a single spark to ignite a blaze.
Malika Wilkins was that fire starter for the Davis High girls basketball team on Friday, as the Lady Blue Devils overcame early struggles to coast to a 63-45 Delta Valley Conference victory over Monterey Trail (9-16, 3-5) at The Cage.
“We were a little sluggish at the start and made a couple of adjustments. We were proud of the second quarter (effort),” DHS interim head coach Dennis Foster said after his team won its ninth straight game and improved to 8-0 in conference play to remain atop the DVC. The Devils are 18-6 overall and ranked fifth in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I power rankings
Wilkins, who entered the game halfway through the first quarter, scored 14 of her 19 points in the first half. Her twin sister Khaliya Wilkins added 14 points for Davis and Tiffany Ho was hot late to close out the contest with seven.
After Malika Wilkins closed out a back-and-forth first period with a game-tying 3-pointer from the baseline, the Blue Devils took control in the second quarter.
With the game tied 14-14, Khaliya Wilkins and Ali Campos scored on layups and Malika Wilkins drained another trey. DHS’ top scorer than yanked down an offensive board and muscled it into the basket to push the Devils advantage to 23-14.
Moments later, after Campos drove to the rim for a lay-in, a 14-0 run had Davis ahead 28-14. The two teams then traded baskets the rest of the half, and DHS entered the break with 31-21 lead.
In the second half, any hopes the Mustangs had for a comeback were swiftly quashed.
Khaliya Wilkins nailed a jumper from the top of the key and Brooke Darrah swished a shot in the post. Khaliya Wilkins then ripped the ball away from a Monterey Trail ball-handler and hooked up with Campos down court for a lay-up. For her next trick, Khaliya Wilkins scooped up a loose ball that popped up out of a pileup at half court and went coast-to-coast. The 8-0 run had the Blue Devils ahead 39-21 before the Mustangs had scored a second-half point.
A three-point dagger by Malika Wilkins to cap off the third quarter made it 48-34 in favor of Davis going into the final period.
In the fourth quarter, a couple of jumpers by Ho maintained the Devils’ commanding lead.
The game wasn’t always dominated by DHS, however, as Monterey Trail got off to a good start with Malika Wilkins opening the game on the Blue Devil bench. From the opening tip, a pair of jumpers in the post by Sumayyah Wiggins and a relentless press that confused the Davis had the Mustangs racing out to a 5-0 lead.
But after a few minutes, Malika Wilkins checked in quickly made her presence felt. The star senior drove baseline, then pulled up and nailed a jumper while being fouled. After she converted the free throw, DHS was back in it at 5-5.
Later, when Ashleigh Vandenbrink slipped behind the defense and caught a long pass for an easy bucket, the Devils completed an 8-0 run to go ahead 8-5.
The surging Lady Blue Devils are now on a collision course with second-place Franklin (14-11, 7-1). The Wildcats will be in town for a Tuesday (7 p.m.) matchup that could decide the DVC championship.