Grace Davis High girls basketball coach Tim Garcia could sense something special was in the air minutes before Tuesday's tip against Sierra.
He never expected this, though.
Senior Lea Anderson erupted for a career-high and school record 59 points, guiding the Spartans to a 71-59 victory over the Timberwolves.
Davis played without three players, including two starters, but all they needed on this night was Anderson, a fast-action guard with a full-ride scholarship to Cal State University, Dominguez Hills.
Anderson was locked in from all distances on the floor, at times forcing Sierra (3-3) to press full-court and play a box-and-one defense. She went to the free-throw line 29 times, converting 23, and buried four 3-pointers.
"We had a really good atmosphere in the gym. It was a good vibe, and the game was high-tempo. Sierra played really well," Garcia said. "We had three girls out, so we were down some soldiers.
"Lea knew she had to step up her play and carry us. I really didn't think she had scored that many points, but when you look at the scorebook and understand how the game went down, it really doesn't surprise me that her point total was that high."
It caught Anderson by surprise.
She confessed to being so locked into a back-and-forth game that who scored became irrelevant, just as long as Davis finished possessions.
"I don't even remember the first quarter. I was just trying to make the team better and get them involved in the game, but also do my part," she said. "To be honest, I was just trying to get the game over with. I was nervous the whole way, because it was so close. I'm glad we got the 'W.' "
Anderson's teammates didn't get involved in the scoring until the second quarter. By then, Anderson already had 16 points.
She had 28 points at the half, and then eclipsed her previous career high of 38 points with 16 in the third quarter. Anderson closed the game with 15 in the fourth as Davis pulled away for its third win of the season.
Anderson scored off the dribble and from beyond the 3-point and free-throw lines. She also had more than 10 rebounds and four steals, Garcia said.
"I honestly thought I had 40 points and my team had the rest," said Anderson, who signed her letter of intent with Cal State Dominguez Hills in the fall. "I'm really trying to enjoy the moment. You want to give it your all, because it is your last year. I'm a senior and I'm going off to college soon."
Garcia said Anderson is averaging more than 30 points per game through the first few weeks of the season. Davis is 4-3 and traveled to Central Catholic on Wednesday evening.
All three losses are to perennial playoff teams and large-school league contenders: East Union of the Valley Oak League, and Turlock and Pitman, two of the top teams in the Central California Conference.
Davis rebounded from its loss to the Bulldogs to win the consolation championship at the Modesto Christian tournament last week. The Spartans beat Modesto Metro Conference foe Gregori in their final game, 43-42.
Since taking over the program last season, Garcia is 17-13, an encouraging mark for a program that had a losing record three of the previous four years.
Anderson, a three-year varsity starter and returning All-District selection, has been the catalyst. Last season, she scored at least 30 points against every conference opponent except Modesto Christian, which hounded her with two and three defenders.
Garcia is happy she's found her way into the school record books.
"She's come a long way and she's really been a good leader for us," he said. "She's matured as a player and a person, and she's a great teammate. She takes initiative in a lot of the things we do.
"So when you do good things and you're talented, performances like this are going to happen. She's not a selfish player at all. Athletically and skill-wise, girls like her don't come around very often. It just doesn't happen."
Anderson is proud to be a Spartan.
She played at St. Mary's as a freshman before becoming a three-time letter winner at Davis, which hasn't made the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs since the 2013-14 season.
"This is my home," Anderson said. "I was trying to make a mark. I'm glad I'm playing for this team. I don't regret nothing. I thank the school and staff, because they've helped me do this."