By Jeremy Balan
CASTRO VALLEY — In University High School’s season opener against Thomas More School of San Jose in the first round of the Redwood Christian Tournament, the only remedy for the Red Devils’ high-powered offense was a running clock in the fourth quarter.
The Red Devils only scored four points in the final frame, but the running time was instituted because they had opened up a 79-35 lead heading into the quarter.
The Red Devils would cruise to a dominating 83-42 win on Wednesday at Neighborhood Church in Castro Valley, led by a near triple-double by senior guard Noah Springwater.
Springwater had a game-high 22 points, to go along with 11 steals and eight rebounds, and was pulled late in the third quarter with the rest of the University starters.
“This game was a pretty uptempo game and we like to play that way,” Springwater said. “We like to force turnovers, dribble attack and dish out to shooters.”
Even though Springwater was the undisputed star, University also got a lift from fellow senior captains and guards Zio Enriquez and Matt Schneider. Schneider had 21 points and displayed a deadly shooting touch from 3-point range, while Enriquez converted most of his 15 points on layups off More turnovers.
While the seniors carried most of the load, University head coach Randal Bessolo was encouraged most by the Red Devils balanced attack, featuring 10 players scoring points.
“We have five young players on the team, four sophomores and a freshman, and several of them scored their first varsity points,” Bessolo said. “It was a chance to get their feet wet and get experience playing varsity basketball.”
The Red Devils’ run-and-gun offense was efficient and effective, but it was their high-pressure, full-court defense, which has become a staple of the program, that converted countless More turnovers into easy transition baskets.
“They just have non-stop pressure and you can’t stop them,” said More head coach John Vogel. “I had a pretty good defender on Springwater and you just can’t stop him. Then you spend all your energy trying to stop him and they have four other guys who can score and five more guys on the bench. They just keep going.”
The press defense caused plenty of More turnovers, but also yielded scores of Red Devil fouls, something Bessolo will look to clean up as the season progresses.
“Like a lot of first games, guys come out with a lot of energy, which translates to fouls on defense and hurried passes on offense,” Bessolo said. “In spite of the comfortable margin of victory, we have some things we need to work on.”
Noah Springwater – 22
Matt Schneider – 21
Zio Enriquez – 15
Will Carroll – 7
Two players tied with 4 points
Peter Hawkins – 17
Luke Newman – 10
Lee Mauga – 9
Martin Corr – 3
Alex Mauga – 3