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DHS girls head back to Napa tonight

By December 20, 2010

Enterprise staff writer

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It\’s not necessarily that Davis High girls basketball coach Jeff Christian is a connoisseur, but over the past six seasons at the program\’s helm, he\’s spent a lot of time in the Wine Country.

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After playing tough and finishing second in the Napa Wine Country Classic over the weekend, the Lady Blue Devils are back to the vineyards tonight for a meeting with Napa. Game time is 7 p.m.

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The game precedes Wednesday\’s home date with Will C. Wood in what has turned out to be hectic

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pre-Christmas schedule.

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Cruising along now at 6-3, if the Devils come away with back-to-back wins this week, it will mean the locals have equaled their entire season total of a year ago (8-19).

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“I\’m really pleased with how hard the girls are working,” Christian said before coaching his 11th career game against the Indians. Christian went on to call his team\’s performance last week “great” and hoped that the tournament meant valuable experience to his youthful squad.

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“I forget how young a team we are,” Christian continued. “We are learning everyday … and we hope with each game we get better.”

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Despite starting two sophomores in Ali Campos and Ashleigh Vandenbrink — and having a pair of freshmen quick off the bench (Christian\’s daughter Capriana and Jordan Banwarth) — the Devils\’ heartbeat continues to come from senior sisters Khaliya and Malika Wilkins.

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One or the other of the Wilkinses — bound for San Francisco State upon graduation — have led DHS either in rebounds or scoring in each of the games thus far this season. Each can be counted on to pick up for other, as evidenced by Christian\’s difficulty in keeping them both on the court simultaneously, thanks to foul troubles.

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When Malika sits, it seems Khaliya takes over. When Khaliya\’s out, her sister is running the show.

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The Blue Devils, however, are going to have to wean themselves from the Wilkins\’ dominance, and already it looks promising.

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Inside, Vandenbrink and senior Sarah Sadler have been fortresses, collecting rebounds by the bushel and keeping mostly taller post players at bay. The pair\’s efforts were so well-regarded by Wine Country Classic observers that both made the all-tournament squad.

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Now, after a spotty 62-41 championship showing against Clayton Valley on Saturday, Davis has a chance to re-establish itself with this week\’s back-to-back nonleague outings.

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Napa (2-6) and DHS have a rivalry that heated up in the 2005-06 season, revolving around local transfer Lindsey Dreher.

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Dreher, who had been the Blue Devils leading scorer the previous two seasons, left for the Wine Country — leaving Christian, who was in his first year, with a bunch of guards looking for a center.

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With both playing in the Monticello Empire League, there were plenty of opportunities for Davis and the Indians to duke it out that season — four, to be exact. Napa won the first two conference meetings before the Devils held Dreher to only five points in a 56-53 win over the visiting No. 1-ranked Napans on Feb. 7, 2006.

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Molly Collins, Brandi Foster, Becca Ferrick and Rachael Fulk were DHS\’ walls on defense that night.

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But Dreher, brilliant for the Indians, got her revenge on March 1 as the Indians toppled the Devils, 52-39, in the playoffs. Napa went on to lose to Sheldon in the Sac-Joaquin Section title game.

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Davis finished at 20-9. Dreher and Company went 31-3.

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In Christian\’s tenure, Napa leads the series 7-4, including a 42-30 victory a year ago.

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On Wednesday, at 7 p.m. in The Cage, DHS returns home to play Will C. Wood — the same team it beat, 57-48, in the first round of the recent tournament. In that overtime win, the Blue Devils outscored the Wildcats, 10-1, in the extra period.

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Beware, though, Davis fans. Junior wing Reana Hardin — who had 24 in the loss — comes to town with a 17 points per game average, including hitting 21-of-76 3-point tries.

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Wood is 5-4.

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— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or (530) 747-8047. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com. To view and purchase Blue Devil sports photos, visit http://davisenterprise.zenfolio.com

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