It was a season full of highlights.
When the Davis High boys basketball team went down swinging in an 80-78 playoff loss at Lincoln of Stockton on Feb. 20, it marked a campaign that ended a 3-pointer too soon.
Carding a 16-11 record, earning a third-place finish in the rugged Delta Valley Conference and setting new school standards for most points in a game on three separate occasions, the Blue Devils had a lot to write home about.
DHS led all California squads in scoring average (third in the U.S. at 87 ppg), but playing their double-edged-sword of an offense had a down side.
Bella Vista and Armijo beat the Devils early in the season — each scoring more than 100 points. In games where Davis fell behind, the defense was such that catching up could be difficult.
But along this journey — coach Dan Gonzalez’s 15th season at the DHS helm — there was one thing undeniable about the Blue Devils …
These guys were entertaining.
“I thought we accomplished most of what we wanted to,” Gonzalez told The Enterprise. “One goal was to go a little deeper in the playoffs, but overall we had a good season. We competed well in league (6-4). The postseason? Getting past that first round would have been great.”
Led by guard Hayden Russell and forward Kevin Sorensen, Davis turned heads early when it scored 108 in beating Natomas in November. The points erased a year-old mark (107 vs. Pioneer). A month later, Burton was sent packing, 118-51, in the Scattini Tournament in Salinas.
Such numbers are rare in high school basketball. So rare, that Bay Area sports websites were all atwitter that weekend, sending the news around the grapevine: “Is that Davis score a typo? Nobody gets 118 at that level,” wrote one commenter.
But the Devils weren’t done eye-popping.
After starting DVC play 3-1, the locals topped Valley Christian, 134-55, in a nonleague Common Good Game on Jan. 19.
At the time, DHS was averaging 95 ppg. The Devil threat sent area schools back to their drawing boards to figure out how to slow this juggernaut.
Some were successful down the stretch, but the locals managed to escape the DVC and get into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
“It certainly had its ups and down,” Gonzalez said of 2012-13. “Basketball season can be funny. There are games you should win along the way, then there’s others that maybe you got away with a win. Regardless, this was a good group to work with.”
All-league seniors Russell (19.5-point average) and Sorensen (15.8) were the guns. Junior outside specialist Brandon Strong (12.7) was a reliable addition. Other senior guards James Kilkenny and Tommy Slabaugh brought instant energy whenever they were in the game and a supporting cast — which changed like the wind — was always good for an honest effort.
Off the bench, junior Brett Bloomfield had memorable moments (a steal against Monterey Trail that proved the difference in the game and a white-hot spurt in the Break the Record Night win over Laguna Creek).
Another senior, Grant Dickerson, was one of the region’s top defensive players and was in the top 15 among section shot blockers.
But Davis loses nine seniors to graduation.
In addition to Russell, Sorensen, Dickerson, Slabaugh and Kilkenny, Daniel Bonetti, Adam King, Mikie Schlosser and Hayden Duer matriculate in June.
How will Gonzalez fill the void?
Sure, he’s got inside force C.K. Hicks, Bloomfield, guard Ben Crook, and bigs Logan Davis and Matt Michael joining Strong as returners — but that’s just six.
Blue Devil fans got a sneak peek at some of the talent coming from junior varsity when guards Drew Gnos and Nate Curtis were call-ups for the Lincoln playoff game. Freshman Ryan Kreidler also got his feet wet.
“I like the players that are coming up,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t know if we’ll be as deep, but I know we can be as good.
“Every team has its own personality, depth and character. I like what I see … all the way down, even to the ninth grade.”
Notes: On Break the Record Night, more than 1,266 fans packed the North Gym to see their Blue Devils upend Laguna Creek, 86-80. … Gonzalez thanked his assistant Josh Reese and team manager Justin Cho for their contributions. Each is a former Blue Devil with UC Davis connections. After a standout athlete career at DHS, Reese played Aggie football. Cho is a current UCD student. … Gonzalez says conditioning begins next week and his players — both varsity and JV level — are expected to play 20 offseason games in June before breaking up into AAU groups with the Wildcats and Hot Shots. But before they leave Gonzalez, he assigned homework: “I want each player to take 10,000 shots over the summer.” Hmmm. Didn’t they already do that this past season?