By Bonta Hill
Lick-Wilmerding High School’s boys basketball team came into the Bay Counties League West championship game with the memory of what transpired at Oracle Arena earlier in the year fresh in its collective mind.
On Jan. 27, Lick defeated rival University 49-40, a win that gave the Tigers the belief that they could dethrone the three-time BCL West tournament champions.
Lick senior forward Anthony Shaw led the Tigers with 17 points, junior forward Benjamin Schneider had 16 and Isaiah Boone added 14 as the Tigers captured the BCL West championship with a 58-53 win over the Red Devils on Saturday at Kezar Pavilion.
“When I was out there coaching [tonight], I feel like we carried Oracle with us,” said Lick-Wilmerding head coach Eliot Smith. “The school spirit of when it gets down to crunch time, and you have those fans cheering for you, it really got us over the hump and made a difference for us tonight.”
After both teams struggled shooting early in the game, Lick (18-10) would be the team to heat up in the first half.
A 11-4 run punctuated by a P.J. Stone 3-pointer gave the Tigers a 20-12 lead with just under four minutes to play in the second quarter.
The Red Devils (17-11) started to shake their cold shooting late in the second quarter and closed the the half with 3-pointers from junior guards James Burton and David Medoff. University only trailed 26-20 at halftime, despite shooting only 28 percent from the floor.
Down 30-22 in the third quarter, after Boone came up with a steal and finished with a one-handed dunk, University began to chip away at the lead.
The Red Devils went on an 18-6 run and appeared to seize momentum away from Lick, but Shaw’s 3-point play with 2 seconds left in the third quarter gave Lick a 41-36 lead.
“I was just the beneficiary of my teammates making great plays,” Shaw said. “We knew University was tough, but we knew we had what it took to win this game. But it was our time and [the game at Oracle] sent a message that we could beat them.”
Still, University had one more run in it, and after a layup from Harold Getz gave the Red Devils a 44-43 lead, it looked like the defending champs would be victorious again.
But the Tigers, feeding off of their boisterous student section, would answer University with its own 7-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Matt Bergland that touched every part of the rim before falling through the basket.
“First of all, congratulations to [Lick-Wilmerding]. They were deserving of being league champions and earned it,” said University head coach Randy Bessolo. “They got key offensive rebounds, key loose balls, but it wasn’t because our guys weren’t playing hard, but Lick just had a little extra – a little more than us.”
As Bessolo and University watched Lick celebrate the win, he reminded his team that its season isn’t over, with the North Coast Section Playoffs coming up next week.
“I’m not using this as an excuse, but we’ve faced a lot of adversity this season and we’re going to have to get over more adversity because, frankly, our season isn’t over,” Bessolo said. “We’ll get over this and focus our attention on the next stage of our season.”
Anthony Shaw – 17
Benjamin Schneider – 16
Isaiah Boone – 14
P.J. Stone – 5
Matt Bergland – 3
James Burton – 12
Harold Getz – 12
Jack Gale – 11
David Medoff – 10
Chris Mah – 7