Boys Basketball: University’s run ends at the hands of SJND in NorCal final

University sophomore guard Harold Getz goes up for a layup against St. Joseph Notre Dame in the Northern California title game on Saturday at Folsom High School. (Photo by Doug Ko)

By Jeremy Balan

FOLSOM — The tide was turning. You could feel it.

After trailing by as much as 20 points in the third quarter, the University boys’ basketball team ended the period on an 8-0 run and cut the St. Joseph Notre Dame of Alameda lead to 40-31.

But the Pilots responded with the form of a true champion, pulling away for a 61-43 win in the CIF Northern California Division V championship on Saturday at Folsom High School.

University freshman forward Jack Gale (left) goes up for a shot in the lane, contested by St. Joseph Notre Dame senior center Brendan Keane in the Northern California title game on Saturday at Folsom High School. (Photo by Doug Ko)

The Pilots (26-8) went to their most glaring advantage in the fourth quarter, 6-foot-10 senior center Brendan Keane. He scored nine of his game-high 17 points in the quarter, punctuated by a putback dunk with 4:58 remaining.

“They used their strength we couldn’t match in the fourth quarter,” said University head coach Randal Bessolo. “We’re trying to guard him with 6-2, 6-3 guys who were tired. That’s the sign of a good team and a well-coached team. They used that advantage to go for the jugular.”

After an eight-point performance against the Red Devils (28-7) in the North Coast Section final, won by St. Joseph 63-32, the desire for redemption fueled Keane.

“I knew I could contribute and extend the lead inside,” Keane said. “I definitely wanted the NCS game back, and I got it in this game. I showed I can score on them and contribute.”

As University found out in the first two meetings with St. Joseph this season, it’s hard enough to beat the Pilots with a full team, but they learned it’s nearly impossible without a solid performance from your star senior.

Hampered by a severely sprained ankle that he injured in practice Wednesday, standout senior guard Noah Springwater was held to just two points on 1-of-10 shooting from the floor, including 0-of-7 from three-point range.

“It doesn’t feel good being in [the press] room first for the second straight year,” Springwater said. “We did everything we could to make the adjustment and we were very much in this game the whole way. As seniors, we always talk about leaving a legacy, but unfortunately, we came up short again, and obviously that’s frustrating.”

Still, Springwater played nearly all of the game, guarding Keane for much of it and drawing three key charges that fueled University rallies.

“Noah only scored two points tonight, but I could not be more proud of the effort [he] put forth… to come out here injured and lay it all out on the line for his teammates,” Bessolo said.

Even with Springwater at less than 100 percent, the difference was ultimately the Red Devils’ cold shooting, just as it was in their loss to St. Joseph in the NCS final.


Photo slideshow by Doug Ko

University shot just over 25 percent from the floor and 14 percent from three-point range. Senior guard Zio Enriquez and sophomore Harold Getz were tied for the team-lead with 11 points.

“We didn’t shoot well, but we’ve gotta give credit to [St. Joseph],” Bessolo said. “They have a 6-10 guy and that allows them to extend their defense out on the perimeter. We had some good looks, but I think we were rushing them.”

The Pilots only shot 37 percent from the floor, but dominated the boards, out-rebounding University 55-32. Keane, the tallest player on the floor, had seven rebounds, but the Pilots had four other players with seven or more, including a game-high 10 rebounds each from Garrett Rich and Evander Woods.

“One of the advantages you have with a taller player is that a lot of teams will focus on that taller player,” said St. Joseph head coach Don Lippi. “That allows other people to get rebounds. We know he’s going to take one or two guys to screen him out, which leaves [others] opportunities to get those rebounds.”

Even with three losses to St. Joseph and the loss of senior leaders Enriquez and Springwater next year, there were plenty of positives for University to take away from this season, including the emergence of several underclassmen that will lead the way for the Red Devils in the future.

“Our goal was to win the state championship [this year], but that’s not going to happen,” Bessolo said. “We could not be more proud of these guys as a group. Unfortunately we’re not getting to the promised land this year, but we’ve got some young guys who are going to learn from this experience and we expect to be back.”

St. Joseph will play for the state title Friday in Sacramento against Southern California champion St. Bernard of Playa del Rey.

Scoring Leaders

University
Zio Enriquez – 11
Harold Getz – 11
David Medoff – 5
Will Carroll – 4
Mat Schneider – 4

St. Joseph Notre Dame
Brendan Keane – 17
Dominic Lippi – 16
Gemeny Givens – 8
Jacari Whitfield – 8
Garrett Rich – 6

Be Sociable, Share!

9 Comments

  1. bro says:

    Imagine if Springwater had scored 22…I still feel like UNI would have lost but not by as much and it would have been much more fun to watch.

  2. devils will be different says:

    The devils will be a different team next year, but that doesn’t mean they’re gonna see the same drop off that many people have declared they will. The UHS sophomore talent runs deep. They won’t have noah, but they’ll have a deep rotation of guys ready to run and gun.

  3. Optimistic Devil says:

    Congrats on a great season to all the UHS players and coaches and great careers for the Noah and the rest of the Seniors. Everyone played well but these kids really all would need to really elevate their game to overcome the poor shooting, ailing star player and outmatched opponent. Zio, Matt, Will, Chris and David (off the bench) all had ok games, the freshmen looked a little out of his element but held is own considering the pressure for the youngster, but Sophomore 6th man Harold Getz was the only player who really had an exceptional game and he was really the key in getting UHS going on all their runs. Hit his free throws too!

    They will be rebuilding without Noah who has been the core of the program for several years, but agreed they do have talent coming up through the ranks. They are returning one two starting sophomores (one who could be the first solid low post player UHS has had in years) and three more solid guys off the bench. The Junior class has another solid forward and an injured guard who could be a great leader at the point next year. One freshman with a lot of upside, many solid guys coming up from JV and you never know whether the next Lebron is walking in next year as a freshmen until you see them :)

    The team will struggle initially to figure out the absence of the do-everything player they have relied on in Noah in recent years, but by the end of the year would not be surprised to see them make another post-season run and maybe go further. St. Joes had an incredible starting senior class graduating their 5 top players. All their conference foes plus Branson, St. Elizabeths, Headroyce, Pinewood, Vacaville Christian are all losing key guys too. Coming back for the grandprized state title in just one year may be shooting for the moon, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Coach Randy has his boys winning their 1st NCS title since 2002 and taking the #1 seed for the D5 Nor Cal PLayoffs. And if they can ever get over the Folsom Nor Cal final hump, anything can happen against even the most talented So cal team when you’re playing runnin’ red devil ball!

  4. bro says:

    Branson is going to be crazy good in 2 years. They have at least 3 amazing freshman who played on JV and dominated. UNI is going to have a tough time going as far as they did this year.

  5. City Lights says:

    The “chickens will come home to roost” next year for Springwater-less Uni when they play some of the teams they absolutely demolished shooting threes and pressing in the fourth quarter. Should be some intriguing games against MA no doubt.

    Of course I have no idea what any of those tiny D5 schools are returning nor do I honestly care. If it wasn’t for the interesting trash talk here on SFP, I wouldn’t have even known that tree fell in the forest.

  6. BASED GOD says:

    good luck next year university

  7. randy should go d1 says:

    If randy ever does coach D1 and get into the big dance, his post game press conference interviews will be really entertaining.

  8. biasedguy says:

    good run uni, next big rivalry the next few years will be uhs and shhs, theyboth have very potential filled sophomores and it will be fun to watch

  9. Molly Rollin says:

    go balboa baseball

Leave a Comment

Comments that advocate violence, racism, or libel, as well as comments featuring profanity will not be permitted. Repeat offenders will have their commenting privileges suspended. All comments must abide by our Commenting Code of Conduct.