By John Baker
The final margin was only 13 points, but the University boys basketball team left a larger impression on Urban after the Red Devils’ 80-67 Bay Counties League West win on Wednesday night at Kezar Pavilion.
“They pretty much dominated us for most of the game,” said Urban head coach Joe Skiffer. “We didn’t have enough fight [or] enough discipline to beat that team tonight.”
A turnover-creating defense, combined with a four-on-the-perimeter system of offense that leaves plenty of options, was crucial to University’s victory. If the Red Devils (13-5, 2-1) had an open perimeter shot, they took it. If not, they penetrated, either getting a basket or collapsing the Blues’ defense, giving more looks for the outside shooters.
“They were really guarding the [three-point] arc and we made the adjustment to go inside to get outside,” said University head coach Randal Bessolo. “We had some threes and it opened up the game.”
Even when the first shots failed, the Red Devils were generally able to get a second one. In a pivotal second quarter, University got enough offensive rebounds to counter an 8-for-21 shooting spree. Urban (14-3, 2-1) shot better percentage-wise, making 6-of-12 shots from the floor in the quarter, but were outscored 21-13 and University took a 38-23 into the halftime break.
After the break, the two teams played a wild, high-scoring third quarter. Urban scored 29 points, but University still extended its lead to 61-42 heading into the fourth quarter.
“We’re pretty explosive,” Bessolo said. “We have quarters like that every now and then and that one came at a very appropriate time in the game to allow us to get control of it.”
James Burton, who had a game-high 24 points (including six three-pointers) was the key when University unlocked the game with about 2:30 left in the first quarter. The senior guard hit back-to-back 3-pointers that helped turn an early Urban lead into a 13-8 University advantage.
Burton led the way, but University had four other players score in double figures.
“It’s not a one-man effort. It’s the whole team,” Burton added. “We all put in a lot of time at the gym, and I think it pays off when you see everyone playing really well together like they did tonight.”
Urban was paced by Harrison Golding’s 19 points. While the Blues narrowed the deficit in the fourth quarter, it was mainly against University’s bench.
“[They] are who we thought they were – a very good basketball team,” Skiffer said. “If you’re not up on your game, they have no problem putting it on you. Luckily we get to see them again and hopefully we’ll have a better performance.”
James Burton – 24
Harold Getz – 14
David Medoff – 12
Jack Gale – 11
Will Carroll – 10
Harrison Golding – 19
Matt Monges – 14
Nate Cohen – 10
Phong Tran – 8
Harry Krinsky – 4