SACRAMENTO — This one hurts.
Needing two wins in its final four games to ensure a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth, the Davis High boys stumbled at Grant on Wednesday, dropping a pivotal Delta Valley Conference basketball contest, 90-80.
The loss drops the Blue Devils (14-9, 4-3) out of a four-way tie atop league standings and now puts pressure on the locals to win at least two of their final three outings to guarantee a postseason appearance. Meanwhile, the Pacers (17-7, 5-2) remain in first place with Laguna Creek and Franklin — both Wednesday winners.
“We had a lot of unforced turnovers and couldn’t get the pace we wanted in the first half,” DHS coach Dan Gonzalez said after watching his team trail 51-33 at intermission. “The energy just wasn’t what we needed. The second half was a completely different story.”
Still trailing by more than 20 points early in the third period, the Devils came roaring back to close within 71-70 early in the final quarter.
Junior guard Brandon Strong led Davis with 18 points and Kevin Sorensen and Hayden Russell contributed 14 each.
But overall, the Devils had the blues from the floor. The locals hit 32-of-87 shots (36 percent), but only 9-of-43 from 3-point range.
DHS got eight points from Ben Crook and five from Grant Dickerson as 12 Blue Devils scored in the game.
Next for Davis is Friday’s Break the Record Night (the attendance mark of 1,119 was set in 2010).
Streaking Laguna Creek (14-10, 5-2) — winner of five straight DVC games — will be in town for the 7 p.m. tipoff.
In their 86-85 decision over the Devils on Jan. 16, the Cardinals overcame a seven-point, third-period deficit to prevail. It marked the first league win for transfer-laden Laguna Creek — which hasn’t looked back since.
After the Cards, DHS entertains Monterey Trail (9-15, 0-7) on Wednesday. With the Mustangs seemingly a breather in this otherwise breakneck stretch drive, it must be noted the Blue Devils were pushed into overtime before escaping with a 96-91 road win over MTHS on Jan. 18.
Enough drama? Not quite …
The conference finale on Feb. 8 features Davis on the road at four-time defending DVC champion Franklin (12-12, 5-2).
“All three are going to be tough,” Gonzalez said, believing his squad has “to get at least one” to stay in playoff contention.
To take league?
“We may have to win all three now,” the 15th-year coach added.
Notes: According to CIF officials, 12th-ranked DHS will get a playoff berth with either 16 wins or a league title. Failing both, it will be up to how the Division I power rankings play out between now and the Feb. 13 bracket announcements. At least 16 schools will play in the postseason, but officials say there will be out-bracket games to accommodate the 16-win, non-championship teams. Visit www.cifsjs.org for all the power rankings. … Grant was led in scoring by Brandon Nunn with 34 and De’Sean Parsons’ 23. Austin Lampley, recovering from a serious ankle sprain, did not attend Wednesday’s contest. …Logan Davis was back from the flu, but did not score.