Ah, these growing pains.
They frustrate and they sting in the low times, but finally on Friday night — thanks to some clutch coming-of-age effort — they can also thrill.
Davis’ young and restless boys basketball team soared out to a double-digit lead at halftime, gave it all away and more in the second half but then came together like seniors on their home floor to rally back for a 66-63 victory over Moses Lake in CBBN play at Davis Gym.
“It’s a restarting process, definitely, but we’re getting past being a young team,” said sophomore Nikhil Lizotte, who scored 16 points in just his second game back from a football injury. “We’re getting better at the fundamentals and trying to get more consistent. We’ve had three heartbreakers, so this was a big win.”
With three one-point losses in their first six games, the Pirates flirted with another one as Moses Lake stormed ahead in the third quarter, outscoring Davis 23-7 as 6-foot-4 senior Denis Ulyanchuk dominated the game with 15 of his 27 points. He continued to control the game inside against the shorter Pirates into the final period, scoring back-to-back baskets for a 59-54 lead with four minutes left.
But in crunch time, Davis got back to what worked so well in the first half — pressuring the Chiefs the length of the floor.
The Pirates unleashed an 11-0 run that was triggered and sustained by four Moses Lake turnovers, and Lizotte was right in the middle of it. The young point guard canned a 3-pointer — just the team’s second of the game — to bring Davis even at 59-59, and two possessions later he hit a pull-up jumper at the top of the key, his favorite shot, to keep the run going.
With his conditioning and timing still a work in progress, Lizotte was 3 for 13 from the field through three quarters. But in the final period he hit all three of his shots.
“My shooting has been kind of rough, but I’m just trying to be more confident,” he said. “It felt good to hit those shots at the end. I felt more in rhythm.”
As usual, Carlos Vijarro was a workhorse and a strong senior leader for his young crew. While he couldn’t find the range from the foul line, Vijarro had no trouble from the field, making 8 of 9 shots in the first half en route to his season-high 25 points. He did, however, miss seven free throws on a night when the Pirates made just 10 of 23.
In previous weeks, that might have been enough to undo Davis’ shot at a victory. As would getting outrebounded 48-32. As would having Max Jones in foul trouble and limited to two points. But on Friday the Pirates reversed the trend with an inspired final four minutes.
“We’ve been faced with a lot of lessons we must learn, but tonight we took a step forward and found a way to overcome,” said Davis coach Eli Juarez. “We played fairly good for the first half, but in the third quarter I was wondering, ‘Is this our team?’ I’m proud of how they worked hard to fix the problems in the game. Look at the bright side — we’re 2-1 in league.”
Davis (2-1, 2-5) continues league play tonight at Eastmont and then finishes its December slate with a nonleague home game against Pasco on Tuesday. The Pirates will then have a 17-day layoff.
MOSES LAKE — Ballard 4, Trino Rubio 10, Sutherland 5, Hirz 2, Easton Baker 11, Chavez 2, Denis Ulyanchuk 27, Earl 0, Hohman 2.
DAVIS — Nikhil Lizotte 16, Jones 2, Gasseling 8, Gil 0, Navarro 9, Carlos Vijarro 25, Moctezuma 2, Briscoe-Hernandez 4.
Moses Lake 13 16 23 11 — 63
Davis 18 21 7 20 — 66
FG: ML 27-57, Davis 27-63. FT: ML 7-10, Davis 10-23. 3-point FG: ML 2-9 (Ulyanchuk 2-2), Davis 2-18 (Lizotte 2-7). Rebounds: ML 48 (Ulyanchuk 12, Sutherland 9, Rubio 7), Davis 32 (Vijarro 9, Lizotte 5, Navarro 5). Turnovers: ML 23, Davis 11. Total fouls: ML 20, Davis 14. Fouled out: None.