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DHS girls take the thunder out of Herd

By January 29, 2011

Enterprise staff writer

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It\’s getting tougher to find a seat at The Cage during Davis High girls basketball games.

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Several things are happening to draw fans, and they were all on display in the Lady Blue Devils\’ 64-38 win over Elk Grove on Friday.

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- DHS\’ up-tempo offense, which is powered by a two-stroke engine in Malika and Khaliya Wilkins.

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- Augmented by the granite-and-cement duo of Sarah Sadler and Ashleigh Vandenbrink inside, the Blue Devil defense can hold sway against most teams.

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- And the girls are winning — six straight victories have them undefeated at 5-0 in Delta Valley Conference play and soaring at 15-6 overall.

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The laser-sharp offensive attack hit 26-of-55. More often than not, the Devils flatten their opponents the second they get the ball. Trapping and full-court pressure have become a way of life for DHS.

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And the not-so Thundering Herd, wheezing along at 4-15 when they came to town on Friday, got a heavy helping of all that the Devils do best.

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First, there were the twins, who combined to hit 13-of-22 shots from the floor. Malika Wilkins led all scorers with 17 points and dished out seven assists. Right behind, with 16 points, was Khaliya Wilkins, who also pulled down 10 rebounds.

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Then there was The Wall.

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Vandenbrink had 12 rebounds and four assists to go with her four points. Sadler had 14 points — 11 in the first half when she kept Elk Grove from getting any kind of traction for a possible comeback. The senior center added seven boards and four steals.

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To the 220 in attendance, the 32-23 Davis lead at intermission was good enough basketball, worth the price of admission. Not really, explained Malika Wilkins:

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“We just weren\’t playing like we normally play and (at halftime) coach was like \’Guys don\’t play down to them … play your game and work hard.\’

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“Coach told us to stop playing big-headed … since we\’re winning a lot of games and it was Elk Grove and we figured we could come out and just walk through it.”

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That uneven first half saw the locals open a 16-5 advantage only to have The Herd close the gap to 22-20 with 3:46 left until intermission.

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DHS had started in man-to-man defense, unusual for the Blue Devils, and got in a little back-door trouble as their visitors scored eight points sneaking down the baseline.

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But this was Davis vs. Elk Grove. It wasn\’t supposed to be close. When Sadler and Vandenbrink worked a Herd turnover, Tori Powell went coast-to-coast for two Devil points. After Sadler banked in a 3-pointer, Ali Campos found her way inside for a layup and order was restored, at 32-23, after two periods.

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The Blue Devils were ablaze in the final 16 minutes.

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When Khaliya Wilkins hit a trey off a Campos dish, then followed with a jumping-jack foray into the paint for two more, DHS opened an 18-point lead.

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As the game progressed, Elk Grove — with 6-foot center Carlee Gray held to just three points on the night — started shooting farther and farther out.

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When the Thundering Herd made just one basket in the fourth quarter, it meant the biggest Davis lead would be the final margin, 64-38.

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Talented EGHS guard Lauren Chetner was held to five points, but did hand out six assists — five in the first half.

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Blue Devil interim coach Dennis Foster made a third-period adjustment after returning to a zone defense. He stacked his guards at the top of the key, taking away Chetner\’s sight lines inside. Any back-door success the Herd had early ended with the new defense.

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The win streak, now at six, is the longest for DHS since the 2005-06 squad won 10 straight and went three games deep into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.

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Next up, the Devils host Grant for Breast Cancer Awareness night on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

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Notes: DHS forward Lauren Blackwell, who jammed her hand in the Rosemont game three weeks ago, was back in the lineup and converted her only shot. … Power rankings for teams will be released this afternoon by CIF. The DVC had a horrible strength ranking (16th) when the conference stacking was released a week ago. The top 16 D-I teams will be in the playoffs. With its 16-5 mark, the Blue Devils should show well in the first pecking order. … When Tiffany Ho blocked a shot near the end of the game, assistant Devil coach Hilary Brittan leaped to her feet to applaud. “Maybe I should watch that,” a noticeably pained Brittan said after the game. Brittan us wearing a heavy knee brace thanks to a fall in her classroom last week. … Melayne Alexander scored 12 for Elk Grove and Jordan Brenner added 10.

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— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at (530) 747-8047 or [email protected]

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