Davis Fights For Winning Ways
The 2018-19 Davis Pirates are on a mission to prove a lot of doubters wrong.
Their record might be 4-8, but Davis is just one game back of Wenatchee in the Big Nine conference standings.
It was a team that many so called experts had written off in the pre-season. With all the talent they had lost, hardly anyone was giving them a chance.
The list of players lost included MVP performers Collin Kelley and Alexzander Delgado, as well as key contributors Brock Williams and Ivory Evans-Kimble.
Team captain Jose Reyes fully acknowledged that the transition was difficult.
“We were young and immature to start they year,” Reyes said. “We realized that if we want to win, we have to play as one.”
Davis was a team with absolutely no identity to start the year.
Their go to shooter Earl Lee was ineligible to play, their big man was a raw 6-5 freshman, and their team captain (while incredibly mature) was only a sophomore.
If there’s one coach you can’t count out however, it’s Davis mastermind Eli Juarez.
After starting the season 1-6, the turnaround his group has made has been nothing short of stunning.
Suddenly Davis has three starters playing at an All-Conference level, and a savvy supporting cast full of players that have bought in.
After starting last year as a freshman, Jose Reyes has made incredible strides this season. Everything from his defensive presence to his leadership has made him a breakout star.
6-5 freshman Dhantaye Bennet-Joe is simply a grown man posing as a 14 year old. His physical style is matched by few in the Big Nine.
“I’ve been playing basketball since I was 5,” Bennet-Joe said. “I’ve played with [Jose] Reyes in places like Seattle and Portland.”
The constant elevation of his game growing up has turned Bennet-Joe into one of the best in the league already.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the season so far has been the emergence of guard Earl Lee. The mild mannered junior has put up sick point totals this year.
A casual fan might believe that Malachi Caffrey is the single game point leader in the Yakima Valley, but this is not true.
Lee’s 37 point burst against Sunnyside paces all players in the area. This past Friday he put on another 34 point show against cross-town rival Eisenhower.
“My confidence is at an all time high right now,” Lee said. “My main role is I just need to score.”
It appears that Juarez has given Lee the green light. It’s become common occurrence for Lee to pull up and drain a three, or drive the baseline for a circus lay-up.
Combine those three talent’s with veteran forward Lincoln Holland-Boone, and up and comers Marcus Cook and Xavier Guerrero; This is a team no one wants to face early in the playoffs.
These next three weeks are going to be incredibly telling for this group. Seven of their final eight games are against in-conference opponents.
Davis Basketball is a program of traditional excellence. They are one of the few schools in the Yakima Valley that holds state-wide recognition.
The 18-19 Pirates are determined to make a seventh straight tournament appearance.
“In my opinion we’ve got everything we need,” Reyes said. “We have confidence, we’ve got heart. I love this team and I think we’ll get the job done.”