DAYTON -- Call it a breakthrough game for the Dayton High School boys basketball team. Coach Rob Streeter did after the Dust Devils staged a fourth quarter rally to defeat Rite of Passage 50-42 in a showdown between Northern 4A front-runners on Friday night.
The Dust Devils (9-5, 4-0) scored 13 unanswered points inside the final four minutes to come from behind and remain tied for first-place in the league with Bishop Manogue. Dayton, Manogue and Rite of Passage (7-4, 3-1) were tied for first-place coming into the evening.
Just as significant, the Dust Devils won at home.
"Before the season, the team set a goal to win all our home games," Streeter said. "We were disappointed when we lost in the finals of our tournament. When we get hour fans here, we figure we owe them a maximum effort."
The Dust Devils finished second to Sparks at its own tournament and second to Providence (Burbank, Calif.) in the Bishop tournament last month. They didn't have to take a backseat this time.
"We've waited 13 games to see a breakout," Streeter said. "So far, when we've had a big game, we haven't executed like we wanted to. Tonight, we did. We controlled the tempo like we wanted to, we were patient and we took care of the ball. We only had seven turnovers, two in the second half, and that was big."
Rebounding and defense were vital as well, especially against the high-scoring Raiders.
"They're a real high-powered team," said senior guard Justin Harris. "They were averaging 72 points a game, so to hold them to 42, that says something for our defense. This was definitely the most controlled game we've played. We stayed with our game plan and played well."
Rite of Passage led 21-17 at halftime, but the tempo had been slowed to the pace the Dust Devils desired. Then Jake Deen and Matt Bowman picked up the pace on the offensive end for Dayton.
Bowman, the team's junior point guard, scored all 12 of his points on four 3-pointers in the second half. Deen, the 6-foot-3 senior post, had nine of his 14 points after the intermission. And both delivered at clutch times.
Bowman's third 3-pointer of the third quarter, a bomb from the top of the key off Nick McQueen's assist, gave Dayton a 33-31 lead with 1:54 left in the third quarter. Then, after the Dust Devils fell behind 42-37 midway through the fourth, Bowman nailed a 3 to make it 42-40 with 3:45 left and triggered the game-ending run.
Brian Lahmann took an inside pass from Deen and drove for a basket to tie the score 42-42. Then Lahmann drove for a layup, drew a foul and knocked down the free throw to put the Dust Devils on top 45-42 lead. Deen took a pass from McQueen cutting through the lane and went for another layup to extend the lead to 47-42 with 1:38 showing on the clock.
Dayton outrebounded ROP 12-6 in the fourth quarter. Deen had seven of those rebounds, three on the offensive end.
"That's what won the game for us," Streeter said. "They had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half. They had 21 points and I say half of those came on second chances, but in the second half, we were able to control the boards."
McQueen and Lahmann finished with nine points each for Dayton and Harris added five.
"It was a huge win," Deen said. "We stepped up and played well, and it was a team effort."
The Dust Devils are back at home for two games next weekend. They host Spring Creek on Friday and then defending 3A state champion Lowry on Saturday.