Boys Basketball: Lick-Wilmerding takes down Urban in BCL West semifinals

Lick-Wilmerding senior Anthony Shaw goes up for a contested layup against Urban on Wednesday at Kezar Pavilion. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Lick-Wilmerding senior Anthony Shaw goes up for a contested layup against Urban on Wednesday at Kezar Pavilion. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

It took Lick-Wilmerding High School’s boys basketball team three games to figure it out, but it finally came up with the formula to beat Urban.

The Tigers locked down the paint, denied standout Urban guard Nate Cohen the ball and outrebounded the Blues 36-22 in a 69-58 win in the Bay Counties League West semifinals on Wednesday at Kezar Pavilion.

The Lick defense sagged, neutralizing 6-foot-5 Urban forward Julian Matulich, and the Tigers (17-10) double-teamed Cohen with regularity. Cohen still had a game-high 19 points, but had to work hard getting into scoring positions.

Lick-Wilmerding junior forward Benjamin Schneider releases a floater in the key against Urban on Wednesday at Kezar Pavilion. (Photo by Devin Chen)

“Our whole plan was to double-team Nate and the most important part of stopping guys is denying them the ball,” said Lick head coach Eliot Smith. “The first two times we played, he got the ball and we couldn’t stop him. Anthony Shaw did a great job of denying.”

Shaw had nine points and three key offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter, but had the most significant impact guarding Cohen.

“Where it shows is when Nate missed his free throws,” Smith said of Cohen’s four missed free throws in the final quarter after making his first five. “That’s when I know we got him.”

The Lick defense ultimately forced the Blues (15-10) to beat them with their jump shooters, but Urban lost its best shooter late in the second quarter. Urban junior shooting guard Matthew Monges hit 4-of-5 3-point attempts in the first half, but did not return from an ankle injury he sustained with 1:27 left in the second quarter.

“It definitely hurt us,” said Urban head coach Joe Skiffer. “If it had happened two days ago, we could have made a better adjustment, but they deserved to win.”

The Blues were up 25-24 when Monges was helped off the floor, but Lick took the lead just under a minute later on a jump shot from junior forward Benjamin Schneider and built the margin steadily in the second half. Schneider led the Tigers with 14 points and had eight of his team-high nine rebounds in the second half.

Urban sophomore guard Harrison Golding picked up some of the shooting slack with three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, but the Lick lead largely stayed in double digits for most of the final frame.

“Urban has been the great story. We were just very fortunate,” Smith said. “When that kid went down, that was the game. It was an even game till he got hurt.”

The Tigers also played one of their best offensive games of the season and their point total was their second highest this season. Ten Lick players scored and four scored in double figures.

Scoring Summary

Benjamin Schneider – 14
Isaiah Boone – 13
Philip Stone Jr. – 10
Matthew Bergland – 10
Anthony Shaw – 9

Nate Cohen – 19
Harrison Golding – 19
Matthew Monges – 12
Harry Krinsky – 4
Julian Matulich – 3

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18 Comments on "Boys Basketball: Lick-Wilmerding takes down Urban in BCL West semifinals"

  1. Joe Skiffer = classy coach and good example for others. I have read stories where coaches blame the refs, refuse to comment, moan about any number of things. I have only seen a couple of Urban games and Skiffer was energetic and positive on the bench and with his team. I see his quote in the article above. after losing a player to injury he does not make an excuse, he says “they deserved to win”. I hope Urban’s BB season continues in the NCS.

  2. after i saw how pumped nate and joe skiffer were after the league win against lick i was like yeah thats not gonna happen again. the great teams dnt freak out after a simple league win. nice adjustments in game plan by eliot smith. should be a good league championship game as the tigers and devils split the season series

    • “This is the most important game of the season.” That’s what UHS’ coach Randy Bessolo tells his team before every single game. No win in league play comes easy and being pumped about getting the W shows intensity. Good teams get excited.

      • god if randy bessolo does something than it must be a great idea. that guys amazing!

        • just pointing out that playing every game with some passion, like getting fired up about a close regular season game, can make a team play at a high level. If a team loses, you think “ah whatever, they were more competitive than us” is an ok thing to say? This isn’t middle school PE and that’s not ok, so don’t knock the Blues for getting pumped. Play with some pride.

  3. Yeah, shout out to Joe Skiffer and the Urban squad. He really is a great coach and really motivates and develops his players. If you look at Urban now compared to Urban preseason you wouldn’t recognize them. They’re going to be a tough team to contend with next year.

  4. why no article on the uni game?

    • Why don’t you try watching high school basketball for 6 hours?

    • We only had two reporters available today and a really early deadline for the Examiner. Sometimes we have to make difficult decisions, but I think we did OK today. We will have the Uni-Stuart Hall game in the Prep Wrapup and hopefully the Uni-MA girls game too.

  5. bballobserver | February 16, 2012 at 9:54 AM |

    I’m with HS BB Fan: Skiffer is a terrific coach. He built a team this year around the talent he had. He made each player better: Julian Matulich learned to be a force in the middle; Matt Monges shot the three with confidence; and Nate Cohen worked on his outside shot, learned to use power and quickness to the basket, and learned to love defense; Harry Krinsky managed the ball better and better. Cinti, Baer, Rosner and the other players all played their roles. Skiffer is a talent in his own right. Gotta love Eliot Smith and Charley Johnson. They need to move over a bit and make room.

  6. Excellent and exciting game yesterday!

    Beautifully coached by Coach Joe Skiffer and Coach Eliot Smith!

    The guys on both teams played hard, played well, and with determination.

    The students and parent fans for both Urban and Lick-Wilmerding cheered loudly and pride for their respective schools.

    The coaches, the players, and the fans all displayed the BEST and REAL CLASS!

    Urban and Lick-Wilmerding can be very proud of the SPORTSMANSHIP and CHARACTER both schools possess and are known for.

  7. nextstophoopville | February 16, 2012 at 12:31 PM |

    Exiting game yesterday!! Hats off to Urban who has been playing inspirational basketball and have been fun to watch. Lick played a tough defensive game and controlled the boards and that is why they won. Saturday will be interesting to say the least!!

    • If I am Joe Skiffer, I would do my best to enter the SI Sand Dune Tournament December 2012. As an SI alum, it should be welcomed, and SI would probably want to schedule a BCL team for a first round match. Urban will be as good as they can be (to date) next year, so they may/should give SI a competitive game.

      • Assuming everyone comes back including SD31, I think SI would beat Urban by 20. SI will have a bigger front court next year, although the loss of Nick Johnson will hurt. But, the SI JV’s had a pretty good sharpshooter who nailed many 3’s. Another sharp-shooter Maclean-Vernic will also get crucial minutes to also replace the loss of Nick Johnson. The back-up point guards will also provide SI with a deep bench, as the PG’s in the JV’s were ultra-quick. Furthermore, the AAU circuit will provide TD10 and SD31 with valuable experience and should help SI get back to the promised land. SI 63. Urban 40

        • bballobserver | February 17, 2012 at 7:51 AM |

          That the Urban program is talked about is the same context as SI says a great deal for what the team and the coach have done. Urban plays defense. The score is closer. Next year?

  8. nte cohen is a dangerous player.teams are wise to key in on him.when he ups his dribbling another notch and works on his shyness going to his right,the danger increases!

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