Dan Pacheco is a student of history, so the Davis High coach knows the game changes dramatically between the regular season and the playoffs.
"It's a much more physical game in the playoffs," the Davis High coach said. "A lot more hand-checking and contact under the basket, and you've got to be prepared when that occurs."
He took the Spartans to Franklin of Elk Grove in 2006 and it wasn't until halftime that they adjusted. Playing passive for a half of a playoff game is more than enough to send a team home, so Pacheco's got a plan.
"We ratcheted up our defense Monday at practice and we'll keep pushing that fast tempo," said Pacheco, impressed with his club's defense in Wednesday's 50-36 win over Downey.
It was Davis' 14th consecutive win and keeps the Spartans (19-4, 6-0) perfect in the Modesto Metro Conference with four games before the playoffs.
Davis was No. 6 in the Sac-Joaquin Section power ratings released Monday, and a top-eight seed will be good enough for a playoff opener at home.
Pacheco is looking for much more, which is why he turned to his bench frequently Wednesday. He got 10 players on the court in the first half alone.
And they were all playing defense.
Downey (7-16, 3-3) scored eight, eight and six during the first three quarters, committed 22 turnovers and had just five offensive rebounds.
Whether it was Davis' duo of Edwin Castellanos and Laron Thompson, or Demetrius Prunty and Jordan McKoy off the bench, the Spartans harassed Downey baseline to baseline.
"We played great team defense, and every guy I brought off the bench was working as hard as the guy he came in for," said Pacheco, whose club allowed Downey just 36 shots. "We call it on-ball defense. We're right there in front of them, and because of that, they can't look up to see who's open."
Early in the season, such a suffocating defense would have drawn whistles from officials. The two-man crew gave the Spartans room to play this night, however, perhaps recognizing they'll need this pace in the playoffs.
"That's a big change, because they play a more physical game (in Sacramento)," Pacheco said. "At Franklin, it wasn't until halftime that the kids realized how it was being called."
Pacheco promises to maintain the aggressive defense, pressuring the inbounds pass and harassing the ballhandlers as they come downcourt.
"We want to pick the tempo up and see if they can handle the ball against the pressure," Pacheco said. "It gets more kids contributing on the court, and working harder in practice, too."
Davis' frontcourt of 6-3 Lance Castaneda, 6-1 Kory Johnson and 5-9 Donte Walker combined for 30 points, with Walker putting Davis in charge.
Castaneda helped put the game away in the fourth quarter with three early buckets from three spots on the floor -- an inside shot in traffic, a 12-footer from the left side and a layup.
"Lance is a three-year starter and he has the quiet leadership ability," Pacheco said. "Everyone talks about having to stop Kory and Donte from scoring, and they seem to forget about Lance."
It capped a wonderful day for Castaneda, a prodigious leaper who signed a letter of intent Wednesday to play football at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.
"Lance does everything you could ask of him," said Pacheco, whose forward was four of five from the floor in the second half to finish with eight points. "He uses his size under the basket. He can get physical inside. He plays defense. He's a guy who gets things done."