By Jeremy Balan
CASTRO VALLEY — If there’s one thing University High School has proven in its still-early season, it’s that if the Red Devils experience a cold streak, it isn’t going to last long.
In the championship game of the Redwood Christian Tournament against Bay Counties League West rival Lick-Wilmerding, University struggled early from the floor, specifically a run of 1-for-7 shooting from 3-point range in the first quarter, but the Red Devils still held an 11-9 lead at the end of the opening frame.
But the Red Devils (3-0) got a transcendent performance from standout senior guard Noah Springwater in the second quarter to open up a 38-23 lead at the half and never looked back, cruising to a 77-62 win on Friday at Neighborhood Church in Castro Valley.
Springwater had 19 points in the second quarter on 7-of-9 shots from the floor and would finish with a game-high 28 points and 11 steals en route to a tournament MVP honor.
“Noah has matured a lot as a player and one of the big things he’s improved in is that he’s developed a killer instinct,” said University head coach Randal Bessolo. “That’s what you saw in the second quarter.”
The Tigers (2-1) would tie University in second-half scoring, but could not recover from the second-quarter run.
“Springwater really made the difference,” said Lick head coach Elliot Smith. “That second quarter really separated us. He got on fire and into a nice rhythm.”
Although Lick struggled with turnovers, like many teams do against University, the Tigers handled the Red Devils’ press with relative ease, which terrorized opponents throughout the tournament.
“I feel good that we can matchup athletically with these guys.” Smith said. “I felt like we broke the press, but we had 29 turnovers and my best player [Isaiah Boone] had four fouls and hardly played, and we were still able to score 62 points against them.”
University outscored opponents by an average of nearly 33 points in the tournament, but Lick was it’s toughest test yet.
“This was our first real test and we handled it really well,” said University senior guard Zio Enriquez. “We really showed that when we’re firing on all cylinders how successful we can be.”
Enriquez will also be a key element in University’s guard-heavy system, and he finished with 14 points in the game to go along with seven assists, many of which set up uncontested layups by sophomore forward Will Carroll. Carrol finished with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor.
“Carrol is only a sophomore and he’s been working hard since last season,” Bessolo said. “Will is a guy we’re hoping to see some big things from and this was probably the first glimpse of that.”
Even though University came out on top in their first meeting, the BCL West rivals both feel their two regular-season meetings and possible playoff game could swing either way.
“Obviously it’s good to get these wins, but we don’t like to play them too many times because they’re well coached and they’re a smart team,” Springwater said. “This is what happened my freshman year. We got them the first three times but they got us in the playoffs. Still, it’s definitely nice to come out strong early against a league opponent.”
Along with Springwater and Boone, University’s Mathew Schneider and Lick’s Kishan Jay were named to the all-tournament team.
Noah Springwater – 28
Will Carroll – 16
Zio Enriquez – 14
Chris Mah – 6
Mathew Schneider – 5
P.J. Stone – 12
Tomais Fuentes-Afflick – 11
Kishan Jay – 10
Granger Tripp – 8
Ben Faustine – 6