By Kellen Browning,
From the ecstatic screaming and pounding on the door of the girls’ locker room after the basketball game on Thursday, Feb. 26, it was clear the women’s varsity team had just won a crucial, hard-fought game. The Lady Blue Devils were pushed by the Lincoln Trojans throughout four quarters and an overtime period before finally triumphing, 74-67.
The win propelled Davis High to eighteen straight victories, and more importantly, advanced them to the semifinal round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs.
Senior Emma Stenz finished with 23 points and senior Caitlin Mazzoleni had 21 for DHS, but the team was forced into overtime when the Trojans tied the score at 60 with less than a minute remaining in the game.
Freshman Kelsey Forrester made a trey to start off the overtime period. Lincoln brought themselves within two before Mazzoleni got a bucket for DHS. But the Trojans clawed their way back to tie the game at 65 with a three pointer with 2:54 left in overtime.
After that, though, four fouls on Lincoln over the last few minutes sealed the deal for DHS. Mazzoleni made four free throws in the final three minutes, Stenz had three and senior Katie Grahn, who finished with 17 points, made two.
Though the game started just as it finished—a fast, physical, full-court press—Mazzoleni and Stenz quickly gave the Lady Blue Devils a lead in the opening quarter, alternating scoring until the locals were up 11-4. Despite aggressive play and a number of steals by the Trojans, DHS received scoring assistance from Grahn, senior Sarah Bloise and junior Rachael Allison to end the first quarter with a 23-12 lead.
Lincoln pushed back in the second period, and after Grahn opened the quarter with a basket, they went on an 11-0 run until Mazzoleni brought the Devils—clinging to a 25-23 lead—back to life with two points, with 2:40 to go.
Stenz ended the half with a buzzer beater to give the Devils a 3
7-28 advantage going into the third quarter.
The Trojans didn’t let up, forcing a number of turnovers in the third period and outscoring DHS 16-8 to cut the lead to three.
In the fourth quarter, Lincoln took the lead twice, and was up 53-49 with less than five minutes to go. But the Lady Blue Devils thundered back, scoring 11 points, including nine from deep, in the final minutes.
Lincoln kept pace with the Devils and tied the score again with 41 seconds to go. Mazzoleni missed her shot with 11 seconds remaining in the game, but the Trojans also failed to score in the final seconds, forcing the overtime.
Head coach Heather Highshoe was thrilled with her team’s win.
“We knew coming into this game it was gonna be down to the buzzer. It was gonna be back and forth and we were just trading buckets, and that’s what I expected,” Highshoe said. “The thing that I’ve been most proud of about our team is when things aren’t going our way, we’re learning to move on and to make the adjustments and to get ourselves back in the game, and to never lose hope, lose sight of what’s important.”
Highshoe says that during the critical overtime period, she emphasized “taking it one possession at a time. Getting stops on defense, being strong, being smart with the ball, not panicking.”
“They’ve just matured a lot over this season,” Highshoe added, “and so I’m very happy for them too.”
A radiant Stenz, with a tear-streaked face, reflected on the team’s victory.
“I am so proud of my team. I think this is the farthest I’ve ever heard Davis going…I’m speechless,” Stenz said. “We’ve worked so hard, and I get to play with the most incredible girls every single day. They’re such amazing people, and I’m so blessed to be on this team.”
The Lady Blue Devils will next face the St. Mary’s Rams (28-1) on Tuesday, March 3 at the University of the Pacific. The Rams, currently ranked fourth in the nation, took down St. Francis on Thursday night, 98-55.