Boys Basketball: University threes the difference against Pinewood in NorCal semis

University senior guard Zio Enriquez pulls away from Pinewood senior forward Kyle Riches on Saturday at Pinewood School in Los Altos Hills. (Photo by Eric Soracco)

By Jeremy Balan

LOS ALTOS HILLS — It’s just one point.

Every basketball fan knows this simple fact and it may seem to be basic math, but that’s the only difference between a layup and a shot from beyond the three-point arc.

But when you’re trading baskets with University High School, those points can add up.

Pinewood matched the visiting Red Devils’ run-and-gun pace in the CIF Division V Northern California semifinals, but while the Panthers ruled the paint, University connected on 13 three-pointers in an 81-75 win.

University senior guard Noah Springwater leads a fast break against Pinewood on Saturday at Pinewood School in Los Altos Hills. (Photo by Eric Soracco)

“We call the three-point shot the great equalizer,” said University senior guard Zio Enriquez. “It doesn’t matter if they’re bigger, stronger or more athletic, it levels the game and that’s what we specialize in.”

Enriquez connected on three shots from distance, and had a game-high 26 points, which proved crucial, as the Panthers (23-6) decided they wouldn’t let University standout guard Noah Springwater beat them in the second half.

After Springwater scored eight points and doled out seven assists in the first half, Pinewood junior Solomone Wolfgramm blanketed him the rest of the way. The constant pressure limited his scoring (he would finish with 15 points, but only took three shots from the field in the second half), but also prevented him from distributing the ball to open shooters.

“We’ve got other great players out there and I know they can carry the load,” Springwater said. “They were focusing on me, but they were [pressuring] everybody. We ran our offense, went at them, and got into the bonus.”

The Red Devils (28-6) did get into the bonus early in the fourth quarter, but let the Panthers hang around in the fourth quarter by only making 7-of-18 attempts from the free throw line in the frame.

“I think they actually shot better on three-pointers than on free throws, so I guess we’ll take the threes,” said University head coach Randal Bessolo. “When we win, we’re never disappointed, but in a game like this, in a hostile environment, young guys are going to miss some shots. What’s important is that they learn from it, because we’re not going to be able to afford to miss them next game.”

While the Red Devils couldn’t capitalize at the free throw line, the late Pinewood fouls knocked their three starting forwards out in the fourth quarter, including Wolfgramm and junior Cameron Helvey.

Helvey was simply unstoppable in the first half, leading the Pinewood fast break with 16 points before the half on 8-of-9 shooting. But he fell into foul trouble in the second half, and only took two more shots before fouling out with 5:21 remaining in the game.

“It was tough, but they went down the way they always do, giving it every single thing they had,” said Pinewood head coach Jason Peery. “They didn’t leave anything out on the floor. No one should look back with any regrets.”

Up next on the docket for University is a rematch with top-seeded St. Joseph Notre Dame in the NorCal final on Saturday at Folsom High School.

To say the Red Devils are welcoming a rematch would be a gross understatement, after the Pilots dismantled them 63-32 in the CIF-North Coast Section final just over a week ago.

St. Joseph escaped an upset to unseeded Vacaville Christian in their own game on Saturday to advance to the NorCal final.

Last season, the Red Devils upset the Pilots in the NorCal semifinals, then lost to Branson in the regional final.

“St. [Joseph] sure taught us something last time,” Bessolo said. “Last year, after we beat them in the semis, we celebrated too early and went in against Branson over confident. Because they beat us so bad, we won’t be going in overconfident.”

Scoring Leaders

Zio Enriquez – 26
Noah Springwater – 15
Matt Schneider – 12
Will Carroll – 11
Chris Mah – 8

Dante Fraioli – 20
Cameron Helvey – 20
Solomone Wolfgramm – 18
Kyle Riches – 8
Bradley Naumann – 5

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  1. bro says:

    Wait…someone said “they aren’t good enough to make it far enough to play St. Joseph again” HAHA but anyway they are gonna lose.

  2. SI Cats says:

    Nice run for University. No chance vs. St. Joseph’s.

  3. BASED GOD says:

    Pinewood’s kind of weak though…

  4. Dre says:

    Pinewood is not weak at all. There a very good team Yu dont know what you are talking about Base God

  5. UNI Upset says:

    predicting an upset over SJND by Uni next week to cap off NOah and Zio’s senior year. 65-58

  6. WCAL Fan says:

    The teams University plays seems really, really good. I bet league play was tough, too.

  7. @SI CATS says:

    It’s simple statistics. No D5 school has as good an athletic program as any WCAL school, there’s no denying that. D5 schools are less than 450 students total, which is about the size of a single class at some WCAL schools. But there is also no denying that UHS basketball is better than SI right now, just like there is no denying SI was the better team between 2003-2008 (though they have probably not played head-to-head once in all that time) or that most of SI’s other teams are better than UHS in other sports. The only way to compare the teams are by shared opponents and success and UHS has easily done better on both accounts this year and last. Sure it would be nice to have another comparison through head-to-head play, but UHS has tried to schedule a game against SI just about every year and SI has not accepted, so there can be no complaint on SIs end about that. If teams were solely measured on individual talent, SI may have more of an argument. But the only thing that measures is whether or not a team has over or underachieved, so sort of a slap in the face to their own players and coaches if SI is trying to argue superiority to UHS right now. Plus, I still think UHS has better individual players at 4-5 positions (obviously Center) and better players coming off the bench. UHS is indisputably the better basketball team right now and SI should just accept that because otherwise they can only blaim themselves for not being able to do as well against comment opponents the past two years (underachieving) and/or having continued to reject UHS’ offers to play. As SI indisputably has a better athletic program in general as well as basketball team historically, they should act more graciously and respectfully of a UHS team that has perhaps overachieved and played beyond any potential anyone would ever have imagined. They have become quite a nice underdog story for the city, like Butler or Davidson. Hopefully UHS can rebound to pull off another upset over St Joes as they did last year. Interestingly enough, both teams are close to identical to the year before. That way we could atleast still have a San Francisco team competing in the State title games at Arco! I’m sure UHS would be hoping the same for SI (or any other local rival) if it were the other way around, as it has probably more often been in the past.

  8. I Doubt It says:

    @ UNI Upset – I doubt seriously that UNI will upset SJND. Will SJND BEAT them down again? No, I believe that it will be a close game but SJND will prevail by at least 10.

  9. Truth says:

    Branson a few years ago was Div V and better than any WCAL team.

    WCAL fans swing from their league and get so narrow minded that they don’t give anyone love.

    Salesian (Div. IV) would work the WCAL too. Especially SH and SI.

    There is no arguing that the WCAL is one of the state’s best high school athletic leagues for any sport. However, it doesn’t mean that that simple fact alone makes them unbeatable from smaller schools. This is the line that too many WCAL fans (especially in the City) cross.

    SI especially seems to hate on UHS (and others) when they have success. Not sure what that is about…well I have some idea.

  10. Anonymous says:

    im pretty sure st joes is d5. and they beat si right? hmmm interesting…and if you look at mutual teams si and uni have played, they both lost to st joes but uni dominated mission, si beat mission by one. si beat riordan by an avg of 8 uni beat riordan by 5. looks pretty even to me

    uni is still playing and about to play one of the best teams in the bay area. hands down. if anyone argues that st joes is a weak opponent as a d5 school they need to stop watching high school basketball. and to say uni is a weak opponent that would be smashed by a wcal team is crazy. uni played big teams (burbank, oakland, notre dame, fremont los angeles) and was only beat badly once the entire season.

    oakland alone has 3 division one signees

  11. jordan24 says:

    at least riordan played uhs – home and home series with riordan taking last year’s game @ uhs (dorsey went off) and uhs winning at the crusader forum this season. like i said in the past, you can never blame riordan for ducking anyone who wants to play them. it’s pretty funny that si and shc are ducking uhs – because from a historical perspective – riordan blows away si and shc in hoops achievement – former players, classic opponents (i.e. o’dowd, dela, skyline, crenshaw, sacramento, centennial, mater dei, jesuit, fairfax) wcal titles, ccs titles, norcal titles and state title

  12. Johnny Drama says:

    @Truth….I assume you are referring to the McNally Branson team? If so, they would not have beaten half of the WCAL teams during that era. Mitty was stacked with Gordon, Chiverton and Company. Riordan had Jones, Camacho, Cannon and crew. SHC had the 2009 team as pups during that time and SI had Toboni, Bull, LeGarza, Brown and CO. Not to mention Serra had Lumpkins and some tough as nails kids and Bellarmine had Bose and Niyi harrison. There i no way Branson would have beaten all, let alone one of those teams.

    I agree that Salesian would work the WCAL this year. They are the top team in Nor Cal and should represent D4 in State. D1 through D4 are comprised of very good teams and most East bay teams would give the WCAL schools a run for their money. The ONLY D5 team that may compete at a high level is St. Joes. They have good seniors, like UNI, but both schools will be significantly down next year. Although they will still be favorites in D5.

    @Anon….you mention common opponents but failed to mention SJ crushed UNI by almost 40!!! Again, if beating a 2nd to last place Riordan team is your litmus test for how good you would do in the WCAL, then that proves you wouldn’t do so well. You barely beat them ! Riordan lost every game in league except for VC. Safe to say UNI would beat VC twice and possibly split with Riordan. The UNI folks need to get over themselves saying SI is ducking them! That is their egomaniacal coach talking. SI played O’Dowd, Burlingame, and St Joes in preseason so why in the hell would they duck UNI who is worse than all those teams? Makes no sense. Didn’t UNI lose to Marin Academy? And Lick almost beat them as well? Any team that has a bad loss and an ugly win against those schools should not be beating their chest.

    I wish them well in Nor Cal, since they are the last city team still playing. It would be nice for them to bring home a state title in Noah’s final game.

  13. @JD says:

    First of all, I am not the UHS coach (and I highly doubt he would spend his time on this blog, since his mentality is that words are bull, and the truth is spoken on the court). SI ducks UHS because they know there is nothing to gain in beating them (since they are the favorite in every sport), but that by chance they lose to them it proves embarrassment for the coach and school. UHS has beat Mission handily the last few years, much easier than SI has (and Mission is an athletic team). UHS’ loss to Riordan last year was in overtime, and there win was much easier than SI’s close escape from a play-off upset (UHS never had that close of a play-off scare to a “weaker” team in years), UHS arguably had the stronger non-conference schedule, almost winning the MOdesto Christian tournament too and still had a better (non-conference) record. UHS beat every team in their conference atleast twice by double digits (probably with an average margin of close to 30). They played Hall, MA and Lick 3x because of playoffs, and none of those play-off games (the ones that really mattered) were even close. The narrow loss to MA and win over Lick were their only close conference games all season and were “hiccups” (but unlike SI’s hiccup to Riordan, these games were basically insignificant). Every strong team, especially one that shoots so many 3s, is going to have a bad game every so often. St. joes may be the heavy favorite, but your missing the bigger picture to say SI is better transitively over one outlying game ibecause UHS has proven the ability to beat St. Joes and SI hasn’t. Judging on the fact that the teams are nearly identical from last year, the St. Joes blowout is stll a statistical fluke considering UHS beat them twice last year (once in an OT Norcal-thriller). What it comes down to between SI and UHS, is that UHS has had a much better season and has outshone SI when considering all areas where you can compare the teams. The only way SI could possibly argue they are better than UHS right now would be if they were to beat them, but as already said, they can only blame themselves for that and should not be trying to make excuses.

    St. Joes was just as good this year as last and they probably would have done just as strong in the WCAL last year too. And UHS beat them twice. UHS was 1-0 against WCAL teams this year, and was 0-1 with an OT loss last year (and I believe– but do not know for sure– that Riordan did pretty well last year). Plus even if you are saying Riordan is a weak WCAL team, they were #7 in CCS D3 and made it to the quarterfinals (and probably should have won). If UHS can beat them, and they did that well in CCS D3, than D3 basketball cannot possibly be all that much better than D5 as you say. Unfortunately, that’s the only measure we have for it because UHS didn’t play any other WCAL teams. The only other measure is UHS’ easy victory over Mission who made the D3 Norcal tournament as an at large. And to say Branson would not have beaten all those teams is also presumptious. The only one of those teams that would have been indisputably better than Branson with McNally was Mitty. In those four consecutive years Branson went to the state championship (3 state titles), thy won their conference with all DI-DIV schools easily. they swept Reeves Nelson’s (UCLA) Modesto Christian each year and that was a good team! They scored over 100 many games and beat up on SHC and some WCAL teams. Your not taking into consideration that Branson didn’t only do so well because they had a lot of talent those years, but because they played a very defensive style of play that was extremely effective against good teams. They were probably a top 5 team in all of Norcal for that reason. IF Branson had been WCAL, it would have been Gordon’s Mitty vs Branson for the title every year, with Riordan and SHC losing in the semis. The other teams were all strong but are not even on the same page.

  14. @JD says:

    When I said they scored over 100 and beat up on SHC… I was talking about Modesto Christian not Branson. The point was that Branson beat them all four years with Reeves Nelson (two of which were in Norcal final games before MC moved up divisions).

  15. Realist says:

    UHS has a better coach and SI doesn’t and it’s a fact. UHS is winning ways us due to it’s better coaching and plus talent. Whereas SI they have talent but no coaching. in any sport talent alone doesn’t Win you
    Championships you have somebody to guide and utilize those talents.
    rumor is that the SI coach ia still the coach next year and I wish SI the best of luck.

  16. Johnny Drama says:

    We will truly never know who would win any of the games mentioned above so we can agree to disagree on that. BUT, what does how good Branson was back then have to do with UNI now? Nothing, this team is not on the same level, not even close to what Branson had. Also, that was a once in a generation Branson team. We will NEVER see a team like that again out of that school! Every now and then you will have a VERY good team out of a smaller school, and that Branson team and ST Joes are examples of thais But as a whole, those teams are very few and far between. Also, Riordan beat Mitty in some of those matches. Riordan had 2 D1 players on that team in the post. Plus a DB-Guard that would have done a nice job defensively on Oliver. On paper, the edge goes to Riordan, but we’ll never know.

    I believe your point is that the WCAL gives small schools no love. Not the case at all! I believe the point SI folks are trying to make, and please any CATS feel free to chime in, is that UNI needs to get over themselves and they are not that relevant to us as THEY think they are. The school is not on here bashing UNI, it is the other way around by saying SI is ‘ducking” us. Who does UNI think they are? The GOOCH? They are a team that barely beats Riordan and loses anytime they play a team with any talent. And also lost to a team with no talent. They have some nice players, relative to other city schools, but come on man!! And then the trash talking that ensued after the Marin game, absolutely classic. This is what irks folks about UNI!! They beat a horrible team and the coaches of both schools are throwing jabs at each other in their interviews. The UNI behavior is a bit over the top for not accomplishing anything of substance with this group. No state appearances or anything to show, except losing to Riordan by 1 point last year and beating them this year! So it is not that WCAL gives small schools no love, it’s just that we believe UNI is not deserving of ANY love. And as far as your coach saying words are bull and the truth is spoken on the court, please translate what the 40 point loss says.

    And as far as who would win, who knows. Teams are comparable and I never said we would trounce them! But again, that is all opinion.

    And yes, CCS is weak. I have been saying that all year.

    Bottom line is, before you come on this board and call people out, you have to be worthy of calling them out. And quite honestly, you are not.

  17. Truth says:

    Hey drama, scroll up and read what SI Cats posted:

    “It’s simple statistics. No D5 school has as good an athletic program as any WCAL school, there’s no denying that. D5 schools are less than 450 students total, which is about the size of a single class at some WCAL schools.”

    That statement is flawed. SI Cats goes on to give UHS some credit but the statement assumes that due to “simple stats” which I think SI Cats means enrollment that no D5 school can have as good of an athletic program.

    Not true. UHS has a strong athletic program in most sports. Branson does too. When Branson was competing with Modesto Christian in basketball, either of those D5 teams would have pushed for WCAL titles. I stand by that opinion.

    It appears that WCAL fans on here are apologists. SI Cat excluded, many seem to make exceptions for their shortcomings and bash the success of other City schools (mainly UHS) in this case.

    To be clear, I didn’t say Branson has anything to do with UHS. They never have. But they do have a lot to do with proving that D5 schools are very competitive. I did offer the opinion as I restated above that some D5 schools could be competitive at times in the WCAL.

    Give credit where it is due, stop hating. I am not sure what you mean by UNI behavior.

  18. More truth says:

    First of all, about half of JDs claims are beyond misleading. For example, UHS is in back-to-back Norcal Final games, so to say they haven’t even made a State championship is narrow at best. UHS doesn’t hate on SI. They were defending attacks on their school by people with WCAL and SI names on this blog. If anything, all rival schools (admissions and athletics wise) including SI hate on UHS. This is the first time in a very long time (other than maybe UHS soccer teams from 2003-2008 but SI plays winter so hard to compare) that UHS has a team better than SI, so when people say otherwise I think its really especially getting to UHS fans. UHS did not start boasting on this blog after articles written about their games that they would win WCALs, but WCAL players/fans were reading the articles and stating that UHS would get demolished in the WCALs. Of course UHS was going to defend it saying that their is no evidence at all supporting that (other than one major loss to a very good team and two close games to weaker teams, which seem pretty clearly to be flukes based on other recent games against those teams that were perhaps more significant). There is no evidence supporting that UHS would win WCALs either, and no UHS fan would actually make that claim seriously. They are only saying, just like we cannot say we would WCALs from one win against RIordan, you (Johnny Drama and others) cannot say UHS would finish bottom half of the league. The Branson information was just to respond to your claim “there is no way Branson would have beaten all, let alone ONE of those teams” by saying your crazy to think that. It has nothing to do with UHS directly, but it does support my claim that D5 schools are being disrespected (not pumping their chests) by bigger schools. Surely Branson those four years was one of the best California D5 basketball teams of all time and St. Joes is also very high in the ranks, but UHS beat St. Joes twice last year (1x in the NorCal Playoffs) and the teams were practically identical. St. Joes was just as good last year if not better, UHS was just as good last year if not better. The teams are not as far apart as you think based off one bizzare blow-out St. Joes is the better team, but UHS can beat St. JOes any given day if they have a good game. Just as UHS is better than MA and Lick, but they can lose any given day if they play poorly. If St. Joes can beat SI and finish with 3 losses in a very tough league, even weaker D5 teams would probably not get blown out of the water. It’s not saying that UHS is better than all these teams, but WCAL fans are dillusioned about how much better they are if they can claim superiority before even playing UHS. And the whole “didn’t play thing” comes from the fact that UHS was put ahead of SI and SHC on these rankings, which are pretty much meaningless but moreorless started the argument in the first place. And the point is: these schools simply have nothing to complain about

  19. Johnny Drama says:

    This is the last time I am going to address this as we have wasted enough of our time. Misleading? It is the truth, they haven’t made a state championship game. It is not misleading, it is a FACT! Will this be their year, only time will tell and I am actually rooting for them because they are from the city. And you say this year you have a better team than SI? What are you basing this on? And you say when SI says they are better it gets to UHS fans? You just said the same thing in your post so what is your point? Fans say this about their respective teams, you just did. Forget common opponents, point differentials etc………what would you say was UNI’s best win? Ours was SHC and Mitty. Mitty is arguably the best team in Norcal.

    We will never agree and we obviously have different vantage points…….good luck this weekend!!!

  20. @JD says:

    I meant it’s the truth but the way your phrasing it skews it. You said UHS hasn’t accomplished anything important making it sound like they’ve never been close to a state title appearance when they’re knocking right at the door the second year in a row. And I am basing UHS has a better team off common opponents and relative success because that is all we have to compare them. We do not know whether or not UHS would have beaten SHC and Mitty, just as we do not know SI would have beaten Lick and MA. But we do know that UHS had better results against Mission (norcal D3 appearance) and Riordan. We also know UHS had a better non-conference record despite similar non-conference strength of schedules. We do know UHS lost to ST. JOes by 2 and 31, and SI lost to them by 5. But last year with very similar teams UHS won both times. you will learn when you take a statistics class that the Median is a better measure of average when comparing two teams than the mean, so the loss by 31 is what you call a outlier, meaning its a misleading fact. If you take the last two years altogether: UHS blows SI out of the water with common opponents. If you take the last 5 years, SI blows UHS out of the water. But in terms of most recent years, UHS can probably more fairly say they have had the better team considering there is no head to head.

    I was pretty sure you went to SI and expected you had a negative opinion about UHS to begin with, but you must realize the start of these debates dude:
    1) Article about UHS beating LIck at Oracle and MA fans talking about UHS being garbage and UHS attacking back.
    2) Then UHS beating MA and MA talking about UHS’ coach and UHS attacking back.
    3) THen the arbitrary placement of UHS as 1st in city on these rankings and SI talking about UHS being weak and not being close to WCAL level and UHS attacking back.
    Sure UHS may be stuck up and pretentious as a school to begin with in nature, but these debates all began with other schools criticizing UHS not UHS trying to claim they were better than they are. They are well aware of their level, but I don’t think WCAL schools are. UHS has been wanting to play local WCAL schools but they refuse to play them for the most part out of lack of respect, which is undeserved and removes all legitimacy to talk down too.

    But take your vantage point on this however you like. We don’t care so much whether you think your better, but didn’t feel right for you to be talking on articles about our team that you are better when there is no real reliable evidence because we are different leagues and divisions and you refused to schedule us.

  21. I am no mathematician.... says:

    …..but I found this post amusing. I will go on record and say I am a graduate of Lowell and I enjoy watching HS ball with no real affinity towards any team. I also enjoy the friendly yet spirited banter between Drama and Truth. It is quite entertaining.

    My two cents say that we do not know who is better, both teams are very good. Coaching edge goes to UHS, hands down. SI is more battle tested due to their league and they face tougher teams more often than UHS. With that said, looking at the common opponents is not to clear a measurement. Truth states UHS played Riordan and Mission tougher. Not certain how both schools played against Mission but SI handled Riordan in the regular season quite easy. Riordan played them tough in the playoffs. Riordan played UHS very tough also so what does this show? Not much. Truths’ logic is flawed if he is willing to dismiss SI’s realatively easy wins versus Riordan but say UHS had an easier time against Riordan based on the playoff game. Using that logic, then SI had a much easier time with SJ than UHS did. If you are dismissing the SJ loss as an outlier, then you have to do the same for the Riordan playoff game, which is still a win for SI as opposed to a loss for UHS. Drama needs to concede that a NorCal finals appearnce is impressive regardless of division. Since the schools are placed in divisions based on enrollment size, UHS has faired very well with schools comparable to them. That equates to success any way you slice it. I will say that the Mitty win is very impressive and that is a nice feather in the hat of SI. UHS, off the top of my head, has no comparable victories. SI’s victory in the BM game also is very impressive. The MA loss can be considered a bad loss for UHS. Did SI lose to a team where they were considerable favorites? Maybe Bellarmine in the playoffs but this was a close game and they were not overwhelmingly favored.

    Bottom line, both schools are good and we will never know who is better. NOW….here’s to UHS pulling out the victory this weekend and winning STATE.

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