OAKDALE -- Kory Johnson had no equal under the basket Saturday, using his girth and strength to position himself for inside shots and rebounds.
With Calaveras High rallying in the second half, Davis turned to its 6-foot, 212-pound junior center to regain momentum -- and Johnson responded.
He muscled to the hoop for a basket to open the fourth quarter and turned a rebound into a basket on the next possession, giving the Spartans a 14-point lead on their way to a 57-43 win in the first round of the Oakdale Rotary Classic.
"I've got a low center of gravity and I use that to get closer to the basket," said Johnson, who scored 18 points and was 6 of 6 from the free-throw line.
Johnson didn't have to worry about taller defenders blocking his shot or plucking away rebounds Saturday, but it will be a different story Monday when Davis faces Enochs and 6-foot-8 center Marcus Bell in a 6:30 p.m. semifinal.
Bell had 20 points in just three quarters in a first-round win over Riverbank, an ominous statistic for a Davis team that struggles against tall centers.
"The difference in height and length, you can't practice against that when your kids are 6 feet or 6-2," Davis assistant coach Chris Guptill said. "McNair had a big athletic kid, 6-7 or so, and I think he had 27 against us this season."
The Spartans will counter Bell's height with Johnson's width and 6-2 Lance Castaneda's athleticism. The duo's presence near the hoop Saturday forced Calaveras to do much of its shooting from the perimeter and helped Davis to a 26-18 halftime lead.
The first few minutes of Monday's game will be crucial, Johnson said.
"They'll come out and try to get it inside to their big guy the first few times," he said. "We've got to deny him and force (Enochs) to go back out to their guards. It's going to be his height against our strength."
Johnson used his strength to overcome a collapsing Calaveras defense and the physical play was to his liking, as he never shied away from the constant contact.
"Coach (Dan Pacheco) told us the team that was most physical was going to win this," Johnson said.
ENOCHS 74, RIVERBANK 39 -- After toying with their prey for a half, Bell and Scott Robertson (18 points) combined for 14 third-quarter points to pull away. Zack Gonzales had 18 points for Riverbank, but the Eagles' tight defense held everyone else to seven points or less.
Riverbank had no answer for Bell, other than when he went to the bench for the final time after the Eagles built a 25-point late midway through the second half. Bell scored 12 in the first half, though he missed a few points by going just six of 11 from the free-throw line.
LOS BANOS 55, JOHANSEN 45 -- After a sloppy opening to the final quarter, the Tigers regained their wits and converted 13 free throws in the final minutes to pull away.
Los Banos led by a dozen points in the third quarter, before Johansen capitalized on the Tigers' turnovers to get within five. Rubal Sangha (23 points) scored six in the final period for the Tigers and Jerrel Minor (10 points) was 4 of 4 from the line.
Bee staff writer Richard T. Estrada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.