It was just like old times for Davis High's tandem of Donte Walker and Kory Johnson.
Walker was aggressively going to the basket with the ball and crashing the boards after missed shots, while Johnson was driving past a slower defender to hit a driving layup.
It was as if they were freshmen again, when Walker was providing muscle in the post and Johnson was helping run the offense in the backcourt.
Their responsibilities have changed since then, but they still have the ability to revert to their old selves if needed.
"I still like going out top to get the ball, because I'm faster than a lot of guys guarding me," said Johnson, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior. "I don't get to do it much because my job is to play near the basket."
Johnson flashed that quickness in Wednesday's 55-53 victory over Modesto. Tied at 53, Johnson forced Modesto's 6-4 Klayton Miller to venture to the 3-point line to guard him.
That's when Johnson drove past Miller, spinning right before dashing down the middle for the game-winning layup.
Those plays have been rare for Johnson this season, with most of his points -- he's averaging 18.2 a game -- coming within a few feet of the hoop.
The perimeter position that he played as a 5-10 freshman is now held by Walker, an aggressive 5-9 junior with the green light to shoot when he's within 22 feet of the basket.
He's scoring 12.4 a game, hitting a season-high 23 in last week's win over Enochs. His points come from a variety of spots on the floor, everything from treys to slashing drives.
Quite a contrast to Walker's freshman year, when he was 5-8 and a massive 210 pounds.
"I was big, real big, so they put me low because I was able to move people," said Walker, realizing he had no future as a 5-8 post. "That was my motivation to get in shape, so I'd go out every day and work on my game. I'd run and shoot, then I'd run and shoot again."
Walker improved his shooting and ballhandling, while shedding pounds, and moved to the shooting guard spot as a sophomore. He averaged 18 points a game last season.
"Donte's tough to defend because he's got a 3-point shot, but he'll also take you to the basket," Johnson said. "He's helped our inside game, too.
"When your guards can hit from outside, the defense has to go guard them. Otherwise, the defense sags and it makes things tough for us inside."
The inside-outside philosophy has taken Davis to a 17-4 record and first place in the Modesto Metro Conference at 4-0, going into tonight's showdown vs. Johansen (14-7, 3-1).
While the offensive exploits of Walker and Johnson have helped the Spartans climb to No. 4 in The Bee's Stanislaus District rankings, they say defense has been the foundation for their 12-game win streak.
Only twice has Davis given up more than 60 in its last 12 games, and it's average score during that stretch is 68-52.
"They're buying into the defensive philosophy, realizing good defense can lead to more offense," coach Dan Pacheco said. "We're not tall, so we've got to be aggressive and rebound to make up for that."
Which is why Walker is just as likely as Johnson or 6-3 forward Lance Castaneda to rip down a defensive rebound, using the spring in his step and strong hands to grab the ball. Despite giving up six inches or more to each of Modesto's frontcourt players, Walker had a game high nine boards.
"Everyone has to get in and help rebound, plus you get a few baskets from offensive rebounds," Walker said. "I still remember what it takes to go inside. You don't forget that."
Bee staff writer Richard T. Estrada can be reached at 578-2300 or email@example.com.