Enterprise staff writer
It was their first venture into national-depth basketball.
For the three boysÕ teams of the Davis Hoops program Ñ known as the Wildcats Ñ their weekend trip to Las Vegas came up 7-7-7.
ÒAs a group, all three teams exceeded my expectations,Ó Hoops mentor George Sousa reports. ÒOur guys handled themselves well … and played basketball the right way.Ó
Aligned with freshmen-, junior varsity- and varsity-aged players, the Hoops teams included players from six area high schools Ñ but the main flavor was Davis High Blue Devil.
The 15-and-under team ran its table with a sparkling 4-1 mark. While not quite hitting the jackpot, they finished fourth in their division.
Both the 16- and 17-and-under squads were 4-2 against some of the nationÕs best Amateur Athletic Union teams. The style of the WildcatsÕ play brought smiles to fans, players and college coaches who were there assessing talent.
ÒSome of the college scouts told me and other parents how impressed they were with us. They had never seen us play. They had seen the others,Ó Sousa recalls, adding that one scout said: ÒI know how much talent is on that other team. And knowing how good they were, the scouts were (surprised) that we were kicking their @#&!#.Ó
Davis missed the finals in JV and varsity with losses in the semis. The varsity guys dropped a 77-75 overtime tilt to Vegas 24/7, one of the host squads.
DHS forward Tim Mohr led the way with a 16-point average and five boards a game.
Floor marshal Graham McDaniel, a two-time all-Delta Valley Conference player for the Devils, was praised by Sousa for Òdrawing attention … then distributing the ball.Ó
All returning Devils Ñ Mohr, McDaniel, Kevin Monell, Tyler Delaughder and Bryce Thompson Ñ were key to helping put Yolo County on the national basketball map.
Competing in the Sports Vision Center Stage Jamboree in Las Vegas, the under-15 squad featured the face of Davis High teams to come. Davis kids like Hayden Russell, Harrison Allen-Sutter, James Kilkenny, Grant Dickerson, Nick Denton and Kevin Sorensen had put Davis Hoops in the No. 1 seeding bracket after three victories in the desert.
The Wildcats spanked Hawaii Dream Team, 71-61, then got past TNBA Ohio, 55-54, before beating Hawaii a second time, 71-36.
Then came Arizona Future, a group that featured a 6-foot-10 center, a 6-5, 230-pound power forward and a guard, according to Sousa, who shot Òfrom 25 to 30 feet … and well.Ó
That was a 70-53 loss, but there was no quit in the locals. Their 4-2 mark was among the tourneyÕs best.
The under-16 squad Ñ featuring solid varsity contenders like Elvis Bikoba, Bryan Hensley, Ilanko Nataraajan, Zach Power, Jack Yoder and Tyler Sousa Ñ were 2-1 after SaturdayÕs victory against the Yuma Heat (50-27). According to Sousa, another 4-2 record was beyond his hopes.
Sousa, who coaches the varsity HoopsÕ team and shares JV duties with Craig Hensley, is Blue Devil head coach Dan GonzalezÕs assistant when the high school season gets under way this winter.
So what does a showing like this Ñ against the nationÕs top teams Ñ mean to the high schools represented by Davis Hoops?
ÒComing in, we knew we had to compete at a very high level … which we did,Ó Sousa adds. ÒI think our playoff loss (to Rodriguez last season in physical fashion) was a wake-up call to us.Ó
Davis was 16-10 and beat two No. 1-ranked Sac-Joaquin Section teams in the process of making the playoffs for the first time in six years.
Sousa liked what he saw, and when the Devils, the Woodland Wolves, Pioneer Patriots and Dixon Rams all go their separate ways for their own high school seasons, Davis can expect a spirited contest for roster spots and another step forward for DHS basketball once the regular season tips off.
Ñ Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 747-8056. Comment on this story at www.davisenterprise.com