In most team sports, one of the attributes of a great team is the ability to recognize the greatest strength of an opposing team and neutralize it.
The Davis Darts put that concept on full display in their 60-45 win over Layton Friday night. The defense of the Darts held the state’s top scorer, Ethan Potter, to just 14 points and forced him to shoot 36% from the field on the night.
Davis coach Chad Sims attributed the feat to the defensive play of every player on the team, not just one individual.
“Collectively, we knew we weren’t going to be able to hold him down just one-on-one,” Sims said. “Potter is one of the best players in the state and we knew it was going to take all of us to hold him down.”
The Davis’ defense was strong the whole game, but it was elite in the first half of the game. The Darts held Layton to 15 first half points and restricted Potter to just one bucket in the first 16 minutes of play.
Davis made the typically tough offensive attack of the Lancers look stagnant, forcing them into deep, contested shot attempts and 26% shooting from the field in the opening half.
The offense of the Darts perfectly complemented the strong defense, allowing the Darts to blow the game open and lead by 19 points heading into halftime.
Chance Trujillo was the centerpiece of the Darts’ offense in the first half. Trujillo shot 6 of 7 from the field, including 4 of 4 from the 3-point line, to score 17 points all before the halftime buzzer.
“Chance was phenomenal tonight,” Sims said. “Not just with scoring, but his rebounding and defending and just his personality, did so much for our team.”
Trujllo — who finished with the 17 points he scored in the first half — struggled with foul trouble throughout the second half and eventually fouled out, preventing what could’ve been an even bigger performance.
Trujillo’s teammates Rex Sunderland and Henry Ihrig picked up the scoring slack while Trujillo sat. Sunderland finished with a game-high 18 points to go along with five assists, and Ihrig pitched in 15 points and seven rebounds.
The Lancers made a push in the second half and cut the lead to 10 points with just under three minutes left in the game, but it was too little too late. The Darts never trailed in the game and led by as much as 22 points.
The win improves Davis to 11-1 in region play and avenges the overtime loss the Darts suffered to Layton three weeks ago.
“Playing more and more games together with this type of season, the better we’ve gotten,” Sims said concerning what changed after the earlier loss to the Lancers. “We’ve just been a lot more comfortable with who we are.”
The loss snaps an 11-game win streak for Layton and gives it its first region loss of the season.
Davis is tied with Layton atop Region 1 and controls its own destiny when it comes to a potential region title. If both Layton and Davis win their two remaining region games, the teams will be crowned co-champions.
Sims was very confident in his team’s ability to close out the remaining two region games and feels that his team is peaking at the right time.
“I’d rather be peaking at this time of the year than peaking in December,” he said. “We’re just going to take it one game at a time and hopefully we’ll get better and better. We feel really good about where we’re at right now.”