Now at 4-1, the Franklin Wildcats came to town on Wednesday and ruined the Davis High boys’ chance of taking the Delta Valley Conference basketball lead.
While the 75-67 setback — witnessed by more than 300 fans — is no reason for the Blue Devils to panic, this one hurt.
In a breathless first period, the two squads hammered at each other before DHS eked out a 19-15 advantage. The Devils took a 41-34 lead into intermission and were still in control after 24 minutes, 53-49.
But coach Jesse Formaker’s Franklin five had learned from their 87-79 loss to Davis in an early-season tournament.
In that Bronco Roundup game at Bella Vista, the Wildcats were bitten by the trey and floor-general Hayden Russell’s 29 points.
So, Formaker had two goals on this night: stop Russell and challenge the Blue Devils beyond the arc.
In outscoring DHS 26-14 in the final period, Franklin’s game plan all came together.
When the smoke cleared, the visitors took control of the conference despite a 10-10 overall mark. The Wildcats have won four straight DVC titles.
Davis, meanwhile, fell to 13-8 and 3-2 in league play. Devil coach Dan Gonzalez says that’s not too bad, considering the balance of the circuit and “the fact we’ve played three of those DVC games on the road.”
But Gonzalez was searching for answers after his team’s dismal fourth period:
“I’m not sure how many turnovers we had … it just didn’t seem like we could get the flow of the game going they way we’d like. And they did a good job. They spread their defense out and took away our perimeter game. With their bigs, it’s tough finishing inside.
“They just had a good game plan,” Gonzalez conceded.
DHS was limited to eight 3-pointers in 30 attempts and finished 27-for-77 from the floor. Meanwhile — especially in the decisive final eight minutes — Franklin was rushing the bucket with two- and three-on-one breaks. On the night, the Wildcats’ 53 percent shooting (30-of-56) did in the Devils.
Franklin also busted the Blue Devils inside, outrebounding the locals, 41-32, despite solid interior outings by Davis seniors Kevin Sorensen and Grant Dickerson.
Sorensen led all scorers with 22 points, while pulling down six rebounds.
But it was Dickerson, especially early, who created problems for those “bigs” Gonzalez talked about.
In the first half, Dickerson blocked four shots and repeatedly made 6-foot-6 Benson Osayande and his frontline pals redirect shots.
With Dickerson and Sorensen (14 first-half points) hitting on all cylinders, guard James Kilkenny helped the Devils take their initial advantage …
The senior came off the bench to hit an early 3-pointer, then dazzled those in attendance with a spectacular spinning basket after getting a Franklin player off his feet with a textbook fake.
DHS twice opened seven-point, second-period leads, ending the half with three Sorensen baskets.
Sorensen, in guarding several Wildcat in-bounds plays, was able to force three five-second turnovers.
However, as well as the Blue Devils played in the first half, the second 16 minutes got away from them.
Swingman Danny Lewis begin heading hard to the Franklin bucket. His seven third-period points sparked a fire that was later fanned by Victor Rustin, Osayande and Dionte Young.
Lewis would add three assists in the lopsided final frame, while Osayande tallied 12 points in the second half.
The angular junior collected nine rebounds to go with a 20-point game. Rustin added 13 boards and 18 points and Young had 15 points, five boards, two blocks, two steals and two assists.
So how do the Devils bounce back?
“Prepare for Elk Grove,” Gonzalez told The Enterprise. “We’re 3-2 going through the first half of league and … we’re OK. We’re sitting in a good position. That’s not bad knowing we have three more at home.”
It just would have been nice to have some breathing room.
Notes: Next up for DHS is that home game against Elk Grove (12-10, 2-3), a 48-31 loser to Grant on Wednesday. … Russell was held to 10 points, but had five assists and five rebounds. … Sac-Joaquin Section officials rated the DVC as the area’s third-toughest league — a so-so ranking that won’t help conference teams when power rankings are released next month. … Austin Lampley is nursing a sprained ankle (suffered in Saturday’s record-setting victory over Valley Christian). He says he’ll be good to return to practice Monday. … Strong and Bloomfield each had two treys, scored eight points apiece, and played inspired ball. Tommy Slabaugh swiped a first-period Franklin pass and put his find away, then added a 3-pointer before halftime.