At some juncture of this long basketball season, Davis High is bound to find itself trailing by 10 points in the last six minutes of a game.
But instead of using the deficit as an excuse to feel sorry for themselves, the Spartans will be able to look back at what they did Thursday night and keep believing and keep playing hard.
That was the effort that allowed Davis to outscore Golden Valley 14-3 over the final 5:32 and pull-out a 55-54 victory over the Cougars at Downey High in the second round of the Modesto City Classic.
Tre Sommers, the lone returning starter off last year's Modesto Metro Conference championship team, got a steal with 42 seconds left, then tipped home a rebound 16 seconds later for the game-winner to complete a 19-point effort.
"Our kids believed all the way through the evening," said Davis coach Dan Pacheco. "We had some downfalls, like when they hit a couple 3s to get them up by 10, but our kids never stopped believing, even when it was 51-41. That's a great credit to our kids for continuing to play hard."
But there was another side to the Spartans' victory. Yes, they had to mount the comeback, but they were assisted by a Golden Valley team that was content to throw up quick shots in the final four minutes while holding the lead.
"We shot ourselves right out of a win," said Cougars' coach Keith Hunter. "It's basketball IQ, and we obviously have a very low one.
"We're trying to call plays to run 30 seconds off the clock, and we have guys jacking up quick shots. Poor execution, poor coaching. How do you not know that you have to run the clock? We didn't."
Those quick shots, including several from 3-point range, were what got Golden Valley the lead. They connected on nine shots from behind the arc, including back-to-back bombs from Dusty Nunes that produced the 51-41 lead.
But they would get only one more field goal the rest of the way,
"We have shooters, but the shots didn't fall in the fourth quarter when it counts, and that's what it's about," Hunter said. "It's easy to make shots when you're up 20, but real players make shots when the game's on the line and we're not real players yet."
Davis still had to take advantage of the Cougars' impatience, and they did it by varying their own game plan. The Spartans answered Golden Valley's quick shots with an offense that worked the ball to produce open looks, even if it took more time off the clock.
"We talked a lot going into the game about making Golden Valley play defense and get the shot clock under 15 seconds," Pacheco said. "We did a really nice job of doing that."
Brennan Shearer-Pope had six points of his 14 points in the final run, Sommers added five and Nate MeGee hit a huge 3-pointer with 1:03 left that pulled Davis to within 54-53.
Following Sommers' tip-in, the Cougars missed two potential game-winning shots, including an open look by Nunes from 3-point range with five seconds left.
When it bounced away, Davis had its first impressive come-from-behind victory of the young season. And having done it once ...
"We know we can do it again," Pacheco said. "And that's a nice feeling to have."
DOWNEY 76, ATWATER 64 The Falcons went inside to Ben Peterson (22 points) to reduce a 20-point Knights' lead after three quarters to five points at 69-64 with more than two minutes remaining, but Downey was able to pull away at the foul line to set-up a semifinal showdown with rival Davis.
Blake Houser had 20 points and Kevin White added 18 for Downey, while Josh Heller added 12 for the Falcons.
MANTECA 68, MODESTO 52 The Buffaloes never trailed after jumping out to a 9-0 lead, and got production both inside and out to maintain their margin. Austin Haro hit two 3-pointers, but also got to the basket en route to his game-high 18 points, while Stephen Ruble and Michael Hatfield added 11 apiece. Jimmale Horton had 14 points and Howard Norrison 13 for the Panthers.
PITMAN 56, LOS BANOS 45 In a game featuring two teams with swarming defenses well ahead of their offenses at this early point of the season, the Pride found their touch in the third quarter and rode a 15-0 spurt to the victory.
Branson Thiara had six of his team-leading 12 points during the stretch, which allowed Pitman to take a 38-22 lead into the final two minutes of the third quarter. Los Banos never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way, despite the 17 points the Tigers got from Delvonte Moore.
At Downey: Davis vs. Modesto, 8 p.m.
At Gregori: Central vs. Turlock, 8 p.m.