By Bonta Hill
The Urban School boys basketball team has been an afterthought in recent memory, but with the coaching of Joe Skiffer and the play of juniors Nate Cohen and Matt Monges, the Blues are making some noise in the Bay Counties League West.
Led by Cohen’s 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Monges’ game-high 20 points, Urban defeated host Lick-Wilmerding for the second time this season 52-42 on Tuesday.
With the win, the Blues (13-8, 5-2) remained in a first-place tie with University High School in the Bay Counties League West.
“It’s a huge win for this school,” Cohen said. “It’s the first time since 2004 this school has been in first place in league.”
Cohen carried Urban for most of the first half, scoring 14 points, including 10 in a first quarter in which he sank three 3-pointers.
Lick (14-9, 4-3), which was coming off a big week with wins over league rival University and St. Elizabeth, struggled all night getting good looks against Urban’s 2-3 zone defense.
The Tigers shot just 28 percent from the floor and the Blues held the frontcourt combination of Benjamin Schneider, Andrew Rauch and Matthew Bergland, who are all 6-foot-4 or taller, to a total of 18 points.
“Urban played really well and their defense was the key to the game,” said Lick-Wilmerding head coach Eliot Smith said. “They really shut us down and put us in the uncomfortable position of forcing shots.”
Despite their cold shooting, the Tigers used a 6-2 spurt cut the Urban lead to 28-25 in the third quarter, which prompted Skiffer to call a timeout.
“I told the guys to just take a deep breath and relax. We’ve played a good game thus far and we just needed to get back to it,” Skiffer said. “Don’t let their pressure dictate how we play.”
The Blues responded to the timeout with a 12-1 run, as Urban sophomore guard Harrison Golding and Monges hit back-to-back 3-pointers that extended the Urban lead to 40-26.
Lick did make one last run — getting within 45-37 on a Phillip Stone Jr. free throw — but Golding answered with the Blues’ ninth 3-pointer of the game to seal the Urban victory.
“It’s a good feeling,” Skiffer said. “We’ve come a long way from last season and our guys have been working hard. We had a breaking point earlier this season where we fell off the tracks, but instead the guys kept on working hard and righted themselves. We’re now headed in the right direction.”
Matt Monges – 20
Nate Cohen – 18
Julian Matulich – 8
Harrison Golding – 6
Benjamin Schneider – 14
Phillip Stone Jr. – 13
Isaiah Boone – 9
Andrew Rauch – 4
Evan Korn – 2