SACRAMENTO — Malika Wilkins, en route to a 27-point night, scored six of the Lady Blue Devils’ final seven points as Davis High opened Delta Valley Conference play with a road victory over Grant.
The Pacers (9-6) and Devils (11-6) are expected to be the top two schools in the realigned DVC. Advantage, Davis.
“I thought we showed a great deal of resilience,” DHS interim coach Dennis Foster said. “This is a tough league … everybody’s familiar with everybody else. We were able to execute, relax at (the right) times.
“We’re just getting better with every game.”
The game was a far cry from the Dec. 18, 2009, game last season in which two struggling teams flat-lined to an eventual 37-36 Blue Devil victory. DHS went on to an 8-19 mark, while the Pacers finished 7-21, remarkably making a brief appearance in postseason.
Just a year later, Tuesday night was a championship battle.
After 4:14 was played in the first period, the score was Grant 8, Ashleigh Vandenbrink 11.
The emerging Devil sophomore — who finished with 16 points and 18 rebounds — accepted assists from Malika and Khaliya Wilkins and Ali Campos, while cleaning up a couple of missed shots on the offensive end.
Vandenbrink, who had a 15-point game in Saturday’s win over Rosemont, drew Foster’s praise:
“Big game (for her). Having someone like Vandenbrink to rebound like that … rebounding will be a key to doing well in league. And it’s great to have a third player that can score in double digits for us.”
Senior center Sarah Sadler (10 rebounds) added to the locals’ domination (47-27) on the boards.
Vandenbrink’s 11 points and nine rebounds in the first period allowed Davis to stay even at 16.
In the second quarter, another sophomore — Campos — started off hot, scoring six of the Blue Devils’ first eight points of the period, including a nifty inbounds steal and bucket.
As both teams tried to trap, full-court-style, they did so to mixed reviews.
Malika Wilkins started to work her way to the basket and hit all six of her free throws in the period. Adding a trey and a slick reverse lay-in, she fueled a 26-point DHS period, which supplied a 42-36 halftime lead.
After intermission, Khaliya Wilkins finished off a nice give-and-go from Vandenbrink, sister Malika drained a 3-pointer and — when Vandenbrink stole a pass and hit Khaliya on the fly — Davis had its largest advantage at 54-42.
But after Grant coach David Kendrick had a soul search with his charges, back came the Pacers …
A 12-3 run cut the lead to three. Then at 7:18 of the fourth quarter, Kiana Davis hit a 27-foot 3-pointer to suddenly put Grant in front, 59-57.
The lead changed hands twice and Khaliya Wilkins fouled out with the scored tied at 66.
That’s when the “resilience” Foster talked about showed itself.
Campos scored, then Malika Wilkins tallied. Twice, Grant crawled to within one, but Wilkins’ performance down the stretch held sway.
The Blue Devils shot 54 percent (27-of-50) for the physical game, which saw the teams take a combined 68 free throws. The 75 points are the most by a DHS girls team since Dec. 5, 2005, when the Molly Collins-led Devils beat — you guessed it — Grant, 82-41.
On Tuesday, Davis led the Pacers with 27 points, while DHS had four players in double digits: Vandenbrink and Malika Wilkins, Khaliya Wilkins with 12 and Campos with 11.
Next up for the Lady Blue Devils is a home game against Laguna Creek on Friday (7 p.m.). It marks the first time Davis has played at home since Dec. 22 when it beat Will C. Wood.