The homecoming crowd that filled the Davis High gymnasium to capacity brought a carnival atmosphere to Friday night's key boys basketball game between the Spartans and Modesto High.
Jose Blanco and Jordan Dickson brought most of the fireworks.
The Davis High teammates combined to score 37 points -- including the Spartans' final 20 points -- in a 55-48 victory over the Panthers. It was a must-win game for the Spartans, and everybody knew it. Just after the final seconds ticked away, fans spilled onto the court, celebrating for several minutes after the game was over.
Davis (16-8, 8-5) won its fifth game in a row. The Spartans are in third place in the MMC and, more important, maintain their playoff position. Modesto (14-9, 10-3) fell to second place, a game behind Downey. The Panthers and Knights face off Thursday, their MMC finale.
"We knew the crowd was going to be crazy," said Blanco, who scored 24 points. "We weren't going to let them down."
Blanco and Dickson made play after play down the stretch. The Spartans needed them.
After the Panthers' Daniel McClellan tied it up at 48-all with 2 minutes, 32 seconds left, Dickson made an inside shot to give his team the lead again. Blanco followed with a drive from the left side for a layup. He closed the game out making three of four free throws.
Expecting a big crowd, Davis coach Dan Pacheco had his team practice Thursday with loud music blaring through the gym's speakers. It worked.
"The kids were focused," Pacheco said. "They played well, even though you couldn't hear a thing. They knew how important this game was."
The Panthers competed as well. Junior guard Nate Jackson scored 13 points, including both of his team's 3-pointers. McClellan finished with 12 and Matt Vermeulen had 11.
"They're the defending league champs, and they battled us," Modesto coach Don Wallace said. "Now we've got to worry about Johansen (on Wednesday)."
Davis, meanwhile, is battling to remain in the playoffs. It was 16th in the last section power ratings -- 16 teams make it.
"We want to keep this run going into playoffs," Dickson said. "We're on our way up."