Booker Hinton knew, almost from the opening tip Friday night, that his Downey High boys basketball team was going to be tough to beat.
"We were flowing together, playing well right from the jump," he said. "It was one of those nights where we were all playing well together."
Hinton scored 24 points, most of them coming on a variety of mid-range jumpers, as the Knights remained tied for first place in the Modesto Metro Conference with a 69-43 victory over Johansen at Downey High. Hinton's 3-pointer with 3:08 left put an exclamation point on the win.
Downey (14-5, 7-1) is tied atop the MMC standings with Modesto (11-7, 7-2). The teams play Wednesday at Panther Palace. Johansen (9-11, 3-4) remains in third place.
"Booker's been real consistent for us," Downey coach Doug Streeter said. "But it was the entire team. Everybody just played well."
The Knights pulled away because of their transition game. Every time the Vikings missed a shot, the Knights would sprint down the court, often getting an easy basket or a foul.
Johansen only trailed 36-27 at the half. There were times when the Vikings were able to get easy shots against the Knights' zone defense.
"But we got cold in the third quarter," Johansen coach Tony Heintz said. "And every time we'd miss, they'd beat us down the court. They've got a good team, and they're playing well."
Jesse Singer led Johansen with 12 points, followed by eight from Deven Cannon. Nick O'Brien and Joe Napoleon each scored nine points for the Knights, who play at Enochs tonight. It's the first of three consecutive road games for Downey.
"We really needed this one," Hinton said. "We have to keep pace with Modesto, plus this is our last home game for a little while."
The Knights were at ease at home, playing in front of a boisterous student cheering section in an almost full gymnasium.
"We hope to keep improving, every game," Streeter said. "Hopefully, we'll continue doing it."