Mix a little Grahn with a quarter of Powell. Give ’em a halftime pep talk and let them loose.
The end result?
A 59-52 come-from-behind Lady Blue Devil victory over visiting Grant on Tuesday at The Cage.
Trailing 23-20 at intermission, the Davis High girls looked horrible in the first 16 minutes …
They had launched 13 turnovers, shot seven-for-27 from the field and went the first 5:28 without a point. At one juncture, the locals trailed 11-2.
Additional angst for Devil fans came when leading scorer Ashleigh Vandenbrink went down just before halftime. A right-ankle sprain was the diagnosis.
But emerging from the locker room, senior Tori Powell and sophomore Katie Grahn would have no more moping.
Whatever chemistry they brought to the floor, it caused a third-period explosion that turned the game around.
“The coaches just told us to get angry,” Powell told The Enterprise after scoring 18 of her game-high 21 points in a 27-9 third quarter. “To take it away from them, and that’s exactly what we did. We got the boards. We made the shots when they counted.”
Despite the strong play of Grant frontliners Aujzhane Buchanan and Raynell Lynn inside, Grahn — at 5-foot-6 — became a nightmare inside.
Finishing with 11 points and 11 rebounds, on three consecutive Grahn plays either made a steal or grabbed a rebound, leading to six unanswered Powell points.
When Grahn rebounded Powell’s 3-point attempt, she worked inside of Buchanan and scored the basket that gave Davis its first lead (at 28-27) two minutes into the second half.
But as Vandenbrink shed her ice pack and limped back onto the court at 4:42, the fun really started.
Vandenbrink hit the Blue Devils’ only trey (off a Kylie Drexel dish) and Grahn — on her knees in the paint — managed to find a cutting Powell for two more. Suddenly it was 41-30 as Grant began to fade.
Powell and center Emma Stenz, another sophomore, finished up the period’s scoring.
The 47-32 lead, however, wasn’t safe.
Led by Alecia Ashford’s five points and two steals, the Pacers climbed back into contention. But with the clock inside two minutes, Grahn’s big-girl rebound and put-back gave DHS a six-point cushion. Stenz tallied five of her 11 points in the final stanza and Drexel’s relentless floor play badgered Grant into a couple of costly turnovers.
The first-place Lady Blue Devils (19-4, 6-1 in Delta Valley Conference) couldn’t have played two different halves.
Coming off the bench, Grahn’s play provided an interesting inside game. Several of her rebounds were won in scrums on the floor and three times in the second half she swiped the ball from the 6-1 Lynn.
“I just went after the ball whenever I could. I didn’t let anybody stop me,” Grahn explained.
Vandenbrink, according to DHS coach Karen Foster, is going to get a practice day off, kinda:
“We might have her shoot free throws, but not more than that.”
Vandenbrink had five points in each half and still managed nine caroms. She’s averaging 15 ppg and just under 10 rebounds a night.
Drexel, in an extended appearance late, had four points, three assists and three rebounds, while Danielle Gantar had two points, two boards, an assist and a steal in limited court time.
Ashford paced Grant (13-10, 4-3) with 10 points and Lynn added nine. Davis outrebounded its guest, 46-31, despite nine boards from Buchanan and eight by Lynn.
Next up for the Devils is a Friday road game at Laguna Creek (3-16, 0-7). DHS waxed the Cardinals, 78-19, on Jan. 15.
The game that’s now circled on the Davis calendar occurs at Monterey Trail (17-7, 6-1) on Feb. 5.
“We just have to keep playing aggressively and not let anyone stop us,” Grahn says is the key to her team’s run at its second DVC championship in three seasons.
Notes: With Tuesday’s power rankings, the Blue Devils discovered they are Division I’s eighth-ranked team. That’s a standing, if it remains, that should be good enough for a first-round home game. Powell knows there is work to be done, but she’s confident: “When Ashleigh went down, everybody else just stepped up. It was great when she came back in … and she’ll be ready for Friday and we’ll just keep going.” … Foster should have a huge smile after reviewing her scorebook. DHS went 18-for-25 at the charity stripe — a season-long area of concern in Devil Nation.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.