By Josh Levine
University High School had a chip on its shoulder Thursday night when they faced off against Liberty Christian of Redding in the CIF Division V state championship boys basketball tournament.
After losing 63-32 on Friday to St. Joseph Notre Dame in the CIF-North Coast Section final, the Red Devils came out and shot 49 percent from the field and dominated visiting Liberty Christian in a 90-55 win at Kezar Pavilion.
Senior guard Zio Enriquez led the Red Devils with 23 points, including 13 in the first quarter, and fellow senior Noah Springwater finished with 19 points.
“Everything they missed against St. Joes, they made against us,” said Liberty Christian head coach Todd Franklin. “Zio was a nightmare for us, especially with the dribble penetration. When we did stop the penetration he kicked it out and they made shots.”
The Patriots did not help their cause, by committing 18 turnovers, to go along with a 1-for-17 shooting performance from three-point range.
Forward Ethan Templeton led the Patriots with 18 points, but no other player scored in double figures.
“We are an extremely young team,” Franklin said. “Most of the game we had two freshmen and two sophomores out on the court. They gained some very valuable experience today.”
The senior guard combination off Enriquez, Springwater, and Matt Schneider combined for 55 points. Springwater, in his fourth varsity season with the Red Devils, collected his 100th win.
“Every team that comes in seems to really focus on Noah, and that’s a good thing for us,” said University head coach Randal Bessolo. “With all of the focus on him, we show that we have other guys that can score.”
After shooting 3-of-29 from 3 point land on Friday, the Red Devils shot 11-of-32 from distance.
“I’m not surprised with how we played today. That’s how we should play,” Enriquez said. “We all came in with an aggressive mindset and we all moved the ball really well. I think all we need to do in our next game is maintain this intensity and always improve our defense.”
University advances to play second-seeded Pinewood on the road Saturday.
“I think if we start to get healthy, we will do fine,” Bessolo said. “We have three guys out with limb injuries and two others out with the flu. Pinewood has a lot of size and that’s going to be a very tough game in a hostile environment.”