By Donald Lee
Balboa High School had just enough in the tank to outlast the host Lick-Wilmerding in a 48-44 win in the semifinal round of the Lick-Wilmerding Tournament on Friday night.
Lick (2-2) had a significant size advantage in the frontcourt and it was the play of 6-foot-4 junior center Ben Schneider that carried Lick in the first half. Schneider took advantage of smaller Balboa defenders to score 12 of Lick’s 25 points in the first half and the Tigers took a 25-24 lead into the break.
The Bucs (2-0) stayed close, in part, due to the play of senior guard Jonathan Burnoski, who scored nine points in the first half. The other part was the play of Balboa’s undersized frontcourt.
While Schneider had a solid first half and finished with a game-high 21 points, the Bucs defense limited the other Lick forwards.
“We’re lucky to have four guys all standing around 5-11 who are athletic,” said Balboa head coach Val Cubales. “They get in there, box out and play defense, and that allowed us to contend with Lick’s big guys”
Schneider once again went to work early in the third quarter, scoring Lick’s first seven points in just under two minutes. A layup by senior guard Isaiah Boone followed moments later and Lick suddenly extended its lead to 34-26.
After a timeout, Balboa responded with a 8-0 run, and the Bucs knotted the game at 36-36 heading into the fourth quarter.
Both teams struggled to score early in the fourth, but Balboa inched ahead and held a 41-38 lead with two minutes remaining.
With the slim lead, Cubales switched to a 2-3 zone, which proved effective, as Lick would not get any closer.
“We felt that Lick hadn’t been shooting well the entire night, so it was a calculated move to switch to the zone,” Cubales said.
The zone also limited Schneider, who did not score in the fourth quarter.
“Schneider had the best looks in the second and third quarters,” said Lick head coach Eliot Smith. “In the fourth, some of the guys felt they need to help the team more so the ball didn’t go into Schneider as much.”
With the win, Balboa will play Head-Royce of Oakland for the tournament championship on Saturday. Lick will take on Westmoor of Daly City in the third-place game.
Chad Untalan — 12
Jonathan Burnoski — 11
Fletcher Brown — 10
Dijon Jones — 8
John Bender — 4 points
Ben Schneider — 21
Isaiah Boone — 9
Matt Bergland — 7
PJ Stone — 3
Two players tied with 2 points