Davis High's girls basketball team did more than simply secure the Modesto Metro Conference championship Tuesday night. The Spartans also earned a playoff berth -- the only one the MMC will be receiving.
"We're going to the playoffs and that's great," said Meghan Devlin, whose two driving layups in the final minutes clinched a 40-35 victory at Beyer.
"Once the game began, I wasn't thinking about anything but playing well and winning," added Devlin, who had seven of her 11 points in the final quarter.
Beyer was within 35-32 when Devlin drove the left side of the key and banked in a layup as she was being fouled. Her free throw made it 38-32, and then she drove the middle with 30 seconds left to close it.
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Davis (15-10, 12-2) began the night as the only MMC team with an overall winning mark and No. 20 in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I power ratings. The top 16 go to the playoffs, but Davis will advance regardless -- though it likely will play on the road.
The section guarantees all league champs a playoff berth, though if the team is 17th or below, it has to travel for an out-bracket game vs. the No. 16 team.
Unless a lot of teams lose two games this week, the Spartans will need the exemption to advance.
"Now that we're in, we hope to go further," said Devlin, whose Spartans were the No. 5 seed last year and lost 49-33 to No. 12 Folsom. "We don't have (MMC MVP Angel) Blanco this year, but we're using all five starters to make a good team.
"I normally don't drive the basket. I usually get the ball high in the key, but I saw Michelle (Davis) set a screen for me and I knew it would be open. Those are the sort of plays we make as a team."
Good enough enough to go to the playoffs, which separates the Spartans from the rest of the MMC.
Beyer (10-16, 9-5) was the next-highest team in the ratings, and the Patriots were No. 22 prior to their loss. Modesto (13-12, 9-5) was seeded No. 23.
Remove Davis from the equation, and the rest of the MMC is 11-46 in non-league games. That not only damaged the power ratings for the five other teams, it led to a low "league strength" rating for the MMC -- which compounded the poor records.
Davis gets the opportunity to prove that section officials underestimated the MMC, or the chance to show officials had the conference pegged right.
Devlin and her teammates didn't give a hoot about any of that after beating Beyer because they were busy celebrating a title -- a crown clinched by boys coach Dan Pacheco. He was sitting in for Joe Ovalle, who was in New York with his golden retriever at the Westminster Kennel Club show.