With just a little bit of help, Jose Blanco just might have led Davis High to an upset of The Bee's No. 3-ranked large-school basketball team Friday night.
Blanco's one-man show couldn't overcome Modesto's team approach, however, as the Panthers rallied for a 75-68 Modesto Metro Conference win before an overflow crowd at Panther Palace.
The Panthers (11-7, 7-1) are tied with fourth-ranked Downey (14-5, 7-1), and the teams play Wednesday at Modesto.
Modesto's lone MMC loss is to Davis, and it looked as if the Spartans (10-9, 2-6) might do it again when Blanco opened the fourth quarter with nine points in a row to tie it at 51.
Blanco (35 points, seven 3-pointers) hit a 3-pointer to give Davis a 58-54 lead with 4:45 left. When Modesto overloaded its defense to Blanco's area, the Spartans went silent.
"When we got ahead, we began turning the ball over. So frustrating," said Blanco, who scored 28 in the second half.
Blanco was 11 for 24, including 7 of 15 on 3-pointers, and made all seven of his free throws.
After Davis took its late lead, Modesto went on a 21-7 run. Six-foot-7-inch Josh Jones and point guard Nate Jackson overwhelmed Davis to finish the game. Jones had 11 points in the final 4:10, and Jackson kept finding teammates open inside.
Jones scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half, and Jackson had 12 of his 21 after halftime.
Muscular 6-3 forward Daniel McClellan, meanwhile, played a pivotal role inside. With 6-9 Matt Vermeulen in foul trouble, McClellan (12 points, 16 rebounds) repeatedly grabbed missed shots and started the transition game.
Davis beat Modesto 70-44 two weeks ago but lost three in a row going into this game.
"We really need to work on our communication," said Blanco, whose club carried a 7-3 record into conference and was considered a co-favorite. "Our chemistry isn't where it was last year."
Modesto appears to have inherited whatever the Spartans lost.
They opened the game with a 10-point run and still led by 10 in the third quarter.
A series of turnovers in the fourth quarter put the Panthers in a hole, but Jackson regained his composure and Jones worked his way free in the key to rekindle the attack that gave Modesto its early leads.