On Jan. 3, Baker pulled off a massive double-overtime upset of the Pendleton Buckaroo boys’ basketball team. The Class 4A Bulldogs beat an 8-4 Bucks team and made coach David Norton question the way his guys approached the game.
So he shuffled his deck of cards.
He moved guard Darius Polhamus to the No. 2 position — more of a wing role in the Buck's offense — opting to have Deon Davis run the point. Davis has play-maker passing skills to go with outside shooting, Norton said, and he hoped the offense would look more dynamic with Davis’ no-looks flying around.
“Darius at the point does a great job, too, but him being at the two, it alleviates some pressure on him to get open more,” the coach said.
Davis has had three of his four best scoring performances since that January day, including a season-high 26 points against Hood River Valley last week. He’s averaging about 14 points per contest in the last eight games.
But what has fueled the Buckaroos during their run to the Columbia River Conference title has been his play helping others score. The senior has produced a pair of double-digit assist efforts, with several more one or two from that mark, while not missing a beat rebounding or hassling ball handlers on defense.
When Davis takes the ball upcourt — which isn’t strictly his responsibility with Polhamus still handling some possessions — the key becomes a carnival game for the 6-foot-2 guard. Some of the gaps in defenders that he threads through should be earning him giant teddy bears.
“Our coach is opening so many doors for us,” Davis said. “Our team, everyone’s just constantly moving.”
Davis said he shoots better outside of a set, without the catch-and-shoot motion that comes from getting open on the perimeter. He calls senior Polhamus a creator in how he flows on the court, which works well given his freedom to make cuts sans ball.
It’s worked, Davis said, even if Polhamus was less than happy with the transition at first. Both players have settled in now, and in turn so too has the Pendleton offense.
“Whatever it takes to get the job done. As long as our team gets the win, I’m happy with it,” Polhamus said.