UNIVERSITY HS — The Stuart Hall Knights made just four 3-pointers on Tuesday, but three of them came in one 14-0 run, a surge that defined their road win over the University Red Devils, which clinched no worse than a share of the BCL West regular-season crown.
“We were in the locker room talking about how we can’t fumble the third quarter because we had done that a couple times in past seasons,” said point guard Miles Amos. “We came out with new energy and locked in on defense.”
That run put Stuart Hall (20-4, 8-0) up by 11, snapping the rhythm of what had otherwise been a back-and-forth game, and though the Red Devils made a valiant push down the stretch, the visitors would hang on in front of the standing-room-only crowd for their 11th win in a row.
With two league games remaining, the Knights have already clinched a share of the league title and the top seed in next week’s BCL West Tournament by virtue of their head-to-head sweep of University (17-8, 7-2). Stuart Hall will have its first outright championship since 2015 with one more win, and the Knights beat both of their remaining opponents by more than 20 points when they first met.
A 3-pointer by Ren Zanze, who scored 10 points off the bench, put the hosts up 34-31 before that decisive run. Alex Byrd evened the score on a 3-pointer and Tomas Wolber put Stuart Hall in front. Another three by Zanze went halfway down but bounced out, and Amos made the Devils pay with an and-1 to give the Knights what was the largest lead of the night to that point.
It wouldn’t be the largest lead for long. Another three by Wolber made it 43-34, and after a basket in the lane from Spencer O’Brien-Steele, University would finally get an answer in the form of Max Fried, who got the final bucket of the quarter.
For Amos, who scored 17, to be involved in a big run for Stuart Hall is no surprise, but Byrd and Wolber are less-likely candidates to make such a huge impact on the offensive end. Byrd, who prides himself on being a spark plug, scored 11, and Wolber added eight despite sitting most of the first half after picking up three fouls.
On Senior Night, Fried would lead the charge for the hosts in the fourth as well, scoring 15 of his game-high 21 points in the final eight minutes to keep his team within striking distance. After Wolber stretched the lead to 47-37, Fried, who will play at Emory next year, would start a 12-5 University run with an and-1. A 3-pointer by Raki Cabrera-Scarlata, who matched Zanze’s production with 10 off the bench, cut it to 52-47, and Fried scored his eighth and ninth points of the quarter to get his team within three.
“Max has been terrific for four years,” said University head coach Randy Bessolo. “This was a continuation of what he’s always done. I’d make the case that he may be the best player in the City.”
Stuart Hall would answer with the next five points, getting a bucket in traffic from sophomore Nigel Burris and an Amos and-1, but still, University wasn’t done. Even after Burris stretched the lead to 60-51 with two of his 17 points, the hosts had one last charge. With Byrd and Burris missing the front ends of one-and-ones and Burris missing another two shots, the Devils cut it to 60-57 with 11.8 seconds left before Burris settled in to swish the last two of his points at the line.
“When I missed those two free throws, that scared me, but (assistant coach Mark) Perelman told me to use my same routine,” Burris said. “I’ve practiced with my dad at the park close to my house, so I was able to go back to my technique and knock those last free throws down.”
Fried scored one last time with three seconds left, but two final free throws by Amos would seal the league title.
“This is my first year winning here,” said Amos, who lost at University as a sophomore and missed the game at the Devil Dome with the injuries last year. “I didn’t get to play last year, so I was able to sit on the bench and watch that. It built up a bit of anger in me, so I had to take it out right here and spoil their Senior Night.”
Charley Moore scored 11 for University, while O’Brien-Steele added eight for the Knights. Burris led Stuart Hall with nine rebounds, while Fried collected 10 to finish off his double-double.