Picture a perfect high school basketball senior night.
It's winter homecoming, the stands are packed and the gym is loud. The all-senior starting lineup takes to the court and all eight seniors on the roster find their way onto the scoring column after handing a family member a rose during a pregame ceremony.
The only thing that could make the evening more perfect for Davis High?
Clinching a Modesto Metro Conference championship.
With the outcome not in doubt after a dominant first half, all 16 Spartans saw playing time and 14 of them scored in an 87-56 victory over Modesto that sent the MMC trophy back to Davis for the second time in four years.
There is one more regular-season goal left for the Spartans, who improved to 22-4 with their 18th straight victory and are 9-0 in the MMC.
A win Wednesday at Johansen would make Davis the first boys' team to go undefeated through an MMC season and would garner them at least one home game in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs.
That in itself begs a question. Since, with few exceptions, the Spartans' run through the MMC has been a series of easy wins, has the league prepared its champion to sprint into the post-season?
"I think we've worked really hard in practice and a lot of kids are getting playing time, so we're developing a lot of confidence," said Davis coach Dan Pacheco. "I feel we're going to be a force in the playoffs. We'll play hard for 32 minutes and then see where we're at."
Despite falling to 10-15, 6-3, Modesto still has much to play for. A home victory on Wednesday against Enochs might be enough to get the Panthers into the playoffs.
Yes, they'd likely go in as the No. 16 seed and face a first-round game on the road against Franklin (Elk Grove) or Burbank (Sacramento) but for a team that won one game a year ago, struggled through a tough preseason and was not thought to be much better than a fifth-place MMC team this season, it's quite an accomplishment.
"We have to play once next week and that's our game," said Modesto coach Donnie Wallace. "Before tonight we'd played eight straight good league games."
But Davis was the MMC front-runner all along, and Thursday's win was a fitting exclamation point.
After a 20-minute ceremony between warmups and the opening tip to introduce the senior Spartans' players and cheerleaders, both teams came out sharp, despite the impromptu rest.
In fact, the Panthers had the best of the opening six minutes, and when Calvin Thomas got an easy basket following a break of the Spartans' press, Modesto had a 15-13 lead.
It would be the Panthers' last advantage, as Davis rode its pressure defense to a 12-0 run to end the first quarter, a spurt that took less than two minutes to complete.
Modesto never really recovered from that run, and any chance at a comeback was foiled by its 27 turnovers and a 12-for-25 effort at the line. DeAngelo Williams led the Panthers with 16 points, while Kory Johnson had 14 points, Lance Castaneda 12 and Donte Walker 10 for Davis.
With the outcome not in doubt, no one seemed to mind when halftime was extended to allow time for homecoming royalty in every class to be introduced and anointed.
"When you have homecoming, I think you need to honor the system," Pacheco said. "These aren't college kids, these are high school kids, so we choose to celebrate the cheerleaders and celebrate our eight seniors."