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DHS tries platoon subbing in loss to Grant

By January 12, 2011

Enterprise staff writer

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When Tim Mohr was injured against Carlsbad two weeks ago, the Davis High boys basketball coaches knew it would have to go back to the drawing board to find the right combinations on the court.

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Using a platoon system (subbing five players at once) for much of the first half, the Blue Devils hung in there, but not long enough as Grant came to town and opened Delta Valley Conference play with 67-62 victory.

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It marked the eighth straight DHS loss.

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The Devils (7-9, 0-1) started Graham McDaniel, Tyler Sousa, Kevin Sorensen, Bryce Thompson and Tyler DeLaughder and waves of Davis players ebbed and flowed throughout the first half. On came Jack Yoder, Bryan Hensley, Arnell Rusanganwa, Elvis Bikoba and Ilanko Nataraajan. Then the starters rushed back in two minutes later.

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And so it went as the locals inched out to a 30-29 halftime lead — remarkable in that the Blue Devils shot just 10-for-32 with 11 turnovers before the break.

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But the Pacers (10-6, 1-0) were unsettled offensively as reserve center Yoder stood strong in the middle, altering several Grant shots while collecting five first-half rebounds.

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Nataraajan and Rusanganwa each had two steals in limited playing time and Thompson\’s personal five-point run gave DHS its first lead in the second quarter.

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Just before intermission, Sorensen\’s lay-in put Davis ahead and it looked like the Devils had answers.

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“We\’re still searching for what works with this group and I think we\’ve got a deep enough bench that we\’ve got guys I think will contribute,” DHS head coach Dan Gonzalez said after the loss — the team\’s fifth in five games without Mohr. “We\’re trying to find the right combinations for this … and we\’ve got to stick with this (platooning). We only put it in two days ago. It does give the team some energy.”

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But after halftime, it was the Pacers who got a jolt, courtesy of Jackson Crawford and Eddie Sparks.

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On three consecutive plays, the pair teamed on a fastbreak baskets that helped Grant inch out to a four-point lead. When Willie Stallworth hit Crawford with a length-of-the-court pass, the big junior center converted and was fouled by Sorensen — and just like that, Davis trailed, 38-31 with the fourth quarter approaching.

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But the Blue Devils switched to a man-to-man defense, put pressure on the ball and scratched back with Thompson\’s third 3-pointer and a 15-foot jumper by Bikoba.

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Thompson would finish with 15 points and Bikoba canned eight with six rebounds, a steal and two assists.

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With DHS down just at 48-46, Grant ran in the last eight minutes … while the Devils fouled.

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The Pacers went to the line 15 times in the fourth period. Fortunately for Davis, they hit only six and the Blue Devils were still alive as Gonzalez mixed defenses.

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“We were trying to mix it up, they were getting shots they wanted on the other end,” the 11th-year coach explained.

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Off a McDaniel assist, Hensley hit a little jump shot in the lane and DHS went up 58-57 with 3:25 remaining.

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But back came Grant, opening a 62-58 margin. DeLaughder (off an assist from Thompson) closed the gap again and, with the score 64-60, McDaniel fouled out with 1:21 left.

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Still the Devils fought on, as Sousa\’s two free throws closed the gap to two with 30 seconds left.

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Forced to foul, Davis put Stallworth on the line. The brother of NFL player Donte Stallworth hit both free throws.

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When Sousa\’s 3-point attempt was boarded by Stallworth, the senior forward went back to the line and closed out DHS with another free throw.

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A Thompson shot missed as time expired.

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“I\’m really pleased with the effort … would loved to have gotten this one. We\’ve lost a lot of close games (but) I thought we were right there,” Gonzalez added.

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Sparks led Grant with 20 points and Crawford added 19. Nataraajan had 10 for the Blue Devils with McDaniel contributing nine and Sousa eight. DeLaughder, Hensley and Sorensen all scored four for DHS.

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Davis has lost its last six games by an average of 3.5 points.

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The Devils travel to Laguna Creek on Friday for another DVC encounter. Game time is 7 p.m.

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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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