Some of the current edition of the West High boys basketball team’s finest moments have come against Modesto schools.
The Wolf Pack set a school-record with 15 3-pointers against Beyer on Dec. 15, and the last time West made the playoffs — when senior forward Justin Phillips was a sophomore — the Wolf Pack played the same Patriots.
But the No. 4 Grace Davis Spartans, who rolled through the Modesto Metro League with a 10-2 record, have had some fine moments themselves and will look to add a home victory over No. 11 West to their resumes at 7 tonight in the first round of the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.
The Wolf Pack are more hobbling than marching into the playoffs. Phillips, who was on pace to become West’s all-time single-season scoring leader before missing time with an illness, has yet to truly recapture his midseason form. Point guard Bryan Tilos, who missed time with a snowboarding injury, is nursing a sore ankle he hurt in the Wolf Pack’s season finale with St. Mary’s.
To top it off, West is riding a two-game losing streak into the playoffs after a 74-47 loss to Tokay on Feb. 14 and a 71-54 loss to the Rams last week. But the Spartans haven’t played in more than 10 days, and West coach Steve Thornton, who saw Davis once in a preseason scrimmage, hopes that’ll make them less ready.
“I haven’t seen them since we scrimmaged them,” he said. “But hopefully they’ll be a little rusty or something.”
Thornton and the Wolf Pack know that alone won’t be enough to pull out a win. For West, the formula is the same: If shots fall and defense is solid, a victory will follow. If they don’t, well —
“We’re in trouble,” Thornton said.
Still, the fates might smile on West after a string of bad luck. The Wolf Pack’s No. 11 draw allowed them to travel to Modesto rather than Folsom or Elk Grove. All players are expected to play without trouble, and West’s 3-point shooters are due for another hot night like they had in December.
Davis coach Dan Pacecho didn’t respond to an e-mail or telephone call seeking comment, and no team statistics were available online. But Thornton said the Spartans have two solid shooters, one of whom — last name Blanco — is an all-around player.
For once, the vertically-challenged Wolf Pack aren’t dwarfed, as the Spartans’ tallest man is about 6-foot-3 or 6-foot-4. If Phillips and fellow forwards Christophe Chaubard and Frank Bonifacio can crash the boards with help from centers Kevin Brown and Alex Call, leaving open looks on the outside for sharpshooters Kris Beck and Aaron Gori, the Wolf Pack stand their best chance.
There’s no telling who they might play next, but that’s a quandary for another day — specifically, Tuesday at the University of the Pacific.
To contact Sport Editor Christopher H. Roberts, call 830-4267 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.