By Owen Yancher,
The Davis High women’s basketball team picked up its first win Thursday night, 47-40, in a back-and-forth game against Ukiah in the first round of the Dorothy Speck tournament.
Head coach Heather Highshoe went with an unexpected starting five: of the six returning varsity players from last season, only sophomore Kelsey Forrester started for Davis. Forrester led the team in scoring with 17 points, followed by juniors Tessa Malone (11) and Alyssa Lengtat (eight).
The Devils played at a much faster pace than they did last winter, sporting new flashy jerseys and slick heather-gray sneakers.
The players treated the ball as though it had been outside in the rain; it appeared slippery and hard to handle. Both teams turned the ball over a copious amount of times–five by Davis in the first seven minutes. Despite ball security troubles, the Devils held their ground and finished the first quarter trailing by only three, 13-10.
In the second quarter, the Wildcats turned up the heat. Ukiah’s defense locked down on Davis and prevented the Devils from scoring for more than five minutes. Junior Grace Gulsvig rescued Davis from its scoring shortage with a crafty layup late in the quarter, but despite another tap-in from Lengtat, the Devils entered halftime trailing 22-15.
“At half, we talked about getting on the same page with each other,” assistant coach Brett Andersen said. “We’ve got six returning girls from varsity and six that played for me on JV last year and our challenge, Heather and I, has been to get some chemistry amongst them.”
A handful of players are easing back into play from injuries. Despite the bumps and bruises, every girl on the roster played Thursday night, with the exception of junior Sarah Grahn, who wore a walking boot on the bench.
In the third quarter, Malone led the Davis charge with a quick score in the paint. She followed her tally with a steal and dished the ball out to Forrester for the Devils’ first three of the night. The turnovers continued, but this time in Davis’ favor. Seniors Faith Harlan and Anna Belenis each had steals, along with junior Cara Satre, Forrester and Malone.
Senior Rachael Allison brought the Devils back within five with a sharp jumper, making it 27-22 Ukiah. After tallies from Lengtat and Forrester, junior Anika Kingsley swatted a feeble shot attempt by Ukiah. The momentum-changing block brought the home crowd at The Cage to its feet and back to life, setting up a three from Malone to end the quarter tied at 29.
Ukiah jumped ahead 36-29 in the fourth quarter, leading to a Davis timeout. The Devils collected themselves and responded with a quick three-pointer from Malone, a Gulsvig swat and another three ball from Satre. The Devils then reclaimed their lead, 39-38, after Harlan hit from the perimeter.
After Harlan’s basket, Ukiah was unable to keep pace with the Devils, scoring only a single free throw in the last three minutes of the game.
Other contributions in the 47-40 win came from Satre (five points), Allison, Harlan, Gulsvig and junior Maria Voss, who each scored a pair.
“The girls have a sense of expectations for each other and when they start working as a team, like they did in the fourth quarter tonight, good things happen,” Andersen said.
The Lady Devils will look to keep the momentum going tonight; the first-round win Thursday sets Davis up to play Salesian at 8 p.m.