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Very soon, Class 4A contenders will get to feel the fast-and-furious Davis of Yakima experience

Paced by Esmeralda Galindo's 22-points, the sixth-ranked Pirates capture their first district title since 2014 with a 54-42 victory over Sunnyside

YAKIMA, Wash. - Faced with likely the biggest moment in the program’s history, the Davis girls basketball team looked all kinds of out of sorts early Thursday night against Sunnyside in the 4A CBBN district championship.

Point-blank shots clanged off, passes sailed past intended targets and a nearly 80-point-per-game offense mustered a paltry 22 points in the first half.

Then, as they had all but two games this season, the Pirates found a way.

With its offense having an off-night, the sixth-ranked Pirates rode a stingy defense and a 13-0 closing run keyed by three 3-pointers to beat the Grizzlies, 54-42, for the program’s first district championship since 2013.

Davis, which earlier this month edged the Grizzlies, 65-63, with a did-you-see-that ending to win its first conference crown since 1988, qualifies for the state tournament for the first time since 2014.

"We had to grind one out," said Davis coach Akil White, who in three years has transformed the Pirates from CBBN also-ran to the top of the heap. "These kids were resilient and I’m really so proud of them because they gutted it out, and early I think they had nerves and in that fourth quarter they were like, ‘let’s go,’ and they hit big shot after big shot."

Those big shots included a pair of three fourth quarter 3-pointers from junior guard Leilani Jonhson – both part of the final kick that sent the demonstrative White into a frenzy.

"I could just feel the momentum of the game shifting really for us and we were locking up, so our energy on defense was transferring to our energy on offense," Johnson said. "I was just going with the flow."

There was little flow for Davis in the opening moments. Much like the matchup 13 days before that ended with Davis post Shaela Allen-Greggs hitting a putback winner from her knees in the final seconds, the Grizzlies jumped out to an early lead, scoring the first seven points of the contest.

The Pirates responded with a 10-0 run of their own, but found the going slow the rest of the half and trailed 28-22 at the break.

Davis stormed out of halftime scoring the first 12 points of the third quarter to surge into the lead. Sunnyside, however, would battle back and the teams would exchange leads into the fourth quarter.

The Pirates, however, had a trio of blasts – Johnson’s two 3-pointers sandwiching one long-range bucket by senior Sara Rodriguez – that put the game away.

"When our offense isn’t at its best, we know our defense is going to take us home every time," said Davis junior Esmeralda Galindo, who scored a game-high 22 points while struggling through offensive peccadillos of her own, including a miss-one-make-one routine in each of her five trips to the free throw-throw line save for an and-one which she converted.

"We’ve played them enough to know what they’re going to do and just … D up," she added.

Johnson finished with 17 for the Pirates (19-2), while ninth grader Baylee Maldonado scored a team-high 12 points for the Grizzlies (14-7), who will host Moses Lake in a winner-to-state matchup Saturday.

Davis will get its marching order Sunday when the regional pairings are announced.

"We’re excited to go west and prove that this league is pretty good," he said, noting that the Pirates’ two losses were to Class 2A power Ellensburg, which has won 47 consecutive games, and to a solid Eisenhower squad.