With their constant full-court pressure and quick-shot offense, the Davis High boys usually get their basketball scores into the 80s or even higher.
On Wednesday, visiting Monterey Trail reached that number but the Blue Devils came up way short in an 82-60 Delta Valley Conference loss in front of 230 fans at the DHS gym.
When they are on, the Devils (13-7, 2-2) either shoot their opponents out of the gym from the opening tip, or keep the pace so high that the other team wears down. Neither happened on Wednesday as the Mustangs (16-5, 3-1) and their head coach Ken Manfredi — a former UC Davis hoopster — have seen Davis’ unique playing style before.
“They did a great job last year against us … and they did exactly what they did last year against us (Wednesday), spread the floor and take away a lot of our threes,” Blue Devil coach Dan Gonzalez said after his team went 10-of-31 from beyond the arc. “Usually we want more (3-point attempts) than that, at least 45.
“And we didn’t finish our twos. When we finish our twos, that’s what opens up the three. So hats off to them. They just did a great job.”
But Gonzalez knew coming into the game that MTHS wouldn’t be surprised by his team’s style and made a few tweaks, especially to the DHS defense. The Devils came to trap the Mustangs from different angles and at different areas on the court than they normally do, but the strategy wasn’t as effective as the locals hoped it would be.
The visitors nailed 12 treys, many of them from the baseline and five of them coming courtesy of Sanam Jhajj, who finished with a game-high 17 points. The Monterey Trail senior hit his first long ball less than a minute into the contest, giving his team a 3-2 lead. The Mustangs never trailed again.
“We couldn’t play defense on the back end,” said Davis senior Matt Michael, who made four 3-pointers for a team-high 14 points. “They kept getting those skip passes for easy layups and easy threes. We need to fix that rotation.”
Though it seemed MTHS had the Blue Devils’ number from the start, the hosts kept it close in the first quarter. When Brett Bloomfield drove the lane for an acrobatic layup in the final minute of the period, the game was tied at 19-19.
But Jermaine Bell got a Mustang bucket before the end of the quarter and that was the start of a 16-4 run that put Monterey Trail ahead 35-23 with less than three minutes to go before intermission.
With their team up 43-32 at the break, Jhajj and Leondre Lintz — who made three 3-pointers and had 15 points — drained consecutive treys to open the third quarter and put the game away. DHS never cut the lead down to single digits the rest of the way.
“We just didn’t bring it (Wednesday),” Michael said. “We just need to have energy, we can’t quit. We have to have the heart the whole game and we didn’t.”
Only two other Blue Devils joined Michael in double digits as Brandon Strong made three shots from behind the arc and had 11 points, while Ben Crook added 10. Strong led DHS in rebounding with four as the Devils were outboarded 33-22.
Davis now heads back on the road for a Friday game at Grant (7 p.m.)