OAKDALE – The final two nights of the 40th Oakdale Rotary Classic were like night and day for Davis High forward Kory Johnson.
He was ineffective in a semifinal victory over Enochs, frustrated by the Eagles’ tall front line, but the 6-foot-1 senior was the man of the moment in Wednesday’s championship game against city rival Johansen.
“Each game is like a new start, and I try not to think too much about how I played the last time out,” said Johnson, who tied a career high with 32 points Wednesday to lead Davis to a 67-58 victory and the tourney title.
Johnson wasted no time establishing his presence, scoring 14 points in the first quarter – after scoring just six the night before. He had 24 by halftime, and then his teammates contributed in the second half when the Vikings shifted their defensive focus to stop Johnson’s inside game.
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While Enochs is tall and slow, Johansen is short and fast. Davis is somewhere between with a talented front line that includes Johnson and 6-3 Lance Castaneda, and a quick backcourt led by shooter Donte Walker. Johnson was the tourney MVP and Walker was an all-tourney pick.
“I’d rather be the team in between, because if the defense wants to pack it on me and Lance, our guards are able to score,” said Johnson, a 215-pounder with a quick first step. “If they go out to stop Donte, that’s going to create some room inside. We’ve got a nice combination.”
That versatility helped Davis (12-4) to a 39-32 halftime lead, but the Vikings (10-7) rallied and even jumped ahead 54-50 when Derek Singer (17 points) hit two free throws with 6:45 left in the game. After Davis closed it to 54-53, Walker (11 points) put the Spartans ahead for good.
He drove hard to the hoop and, after being knocked off his feet, flipped the ball into the basket and hit the ensuing free throw. A few minutes later, Davis used its athleticism to extend the lead.
Castaneda (10 points) blocked a running jumper by all-tourney pick Ezekial Batt, and Johnson nailed a 17-footer on the other end. Johnson blocked a shot on Johansen’s next possession, and Castaneda’s outlet pass to Laron Thompson resulted in the guard hitting two free throws.
That gave Davis a 63-56 lead. The Spartans would have been more comfortable, but they hit only 10 of 18 free throws in the fourth quarter.
Victories over Modesto Metro Conference each of the last two nights bodes well for Davis’ bid to win a title, but Johnson expects Johansen and Enochs to be just as difficult when they play again in the coming weeks.
“They’ve got revenge on their minds, so they’ll be coming for us,” said Johnson, whose club has won seven straight games said. “So long as we use our inside-outside game, I think we’re looking pretty good.”