With her Davis High girls behind at halftime of a Delta Valley Conference road basketball game at Grant on Friday, Lady Blue Devils coach Karen Foster wasn’t worried. Foster was confident because she had something up her sleeve.
DHS came out of the locker room and turned on its half-court trap, then rode the defense — and smarter offensive play — to a 65-53 victory over the Pacers.
“We had way too many passing turnovers in the first half,” Foster said after the Devils won their eighth straight game to improve to 15-3 overall and 2-0 in league play. “We made a few adjustments in the locker room and came out strong in the third quarter”
“We didn’t use our half court trapping press at all in the first half, so we started with it in the third and that got us going and we never looked back from there.”
After getting outscored 24-13 in the second period to face a 33-26 deficit at intermission, Davis gave up just 20 points in the second half. The locals took a two-point lead by winning the third quarter, 18-9, then clinched the victory by outplaying Grant (9-9, 0-2) to the tune of 21-11 in the fourth.
“I told my players at the end of the game that I was very proud of the way the held it together, they played like a very mature, poised team.” Foster said “This is what it takes to win championships.”
Leading the way for the Blue Devils, as always, was captain Ashleigh Vandenbrink. The versatile senior filled up the statsheet with 22 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and six steals, pacing the team in each category.
After a disappointing DVC season last year, Foster promised that DHS would be more physical inside during the 2012-13 campaign, and the Devils were just that on Friday. While sophomore Emma Stenz put up 16 points and eight rebounds, it was junior post Danielle Gantar who exemplified Davis’ powerful performance.
Tasked with guarding the Pacers’ 6-foot-1 post Raynell Lynn, who had scored in double figures in most games this season, Gantar was up to the challenge. The 5-8 Blue Devil used all five of her fouls wisely and held Lynn to just four points in the contest, canceling two of those out with a bucket of her own. Gantar also pulled down five rebounds and added two steals.
Along with playing a more physical brand of basketball, another local goal for this season was improved foul shooting. On Friday, Foster was delighted to see DHS make 13 of its 15 free-throw attempts, as well as 49 percent from the floor.
Both numbers were aided by Katie Grahn’s shooting as the Devil junior made all four of her two-point attempts and was 3-for-3 from the charity stripe. Grahn added six rebounds and four steals in a performance that earned praise from her coach.
“Her defense and anticipation of the ball is outstanding,” Foster said.
Joining in the strong defense were Davis point guards Anna Belenis and Kylie Drexel. Caitlin Mazzoleni had six points for the Blue Devils and Drexel and Tori Powell each scored four.