The Bay Counties League West title will largely hinge on Tuesday night’s showdown between the Stuart Hall Knights and University Red Devils, but there’s a very good chance that it’ll be just the first of three meetings over the next month.
With the league tournament next week and only a couple of serious challengers in the NCS Division V field, after Tuesday’s regular season home-and-home series concludes at the Devil Dome, the teams will likely face off in the much more spacious setting of Kezar Pavilion on multiple occasions.
For now, though, first place is all that matters. The two teams have established themselves as the class of the BCL. Aside from Stuart Hall’s 53-47 win on Jan. 9, the two teams have hardly seen any tight games against league opponents. All but one of the Knights’ other league wins have been by at least 12 points, and four of those have been decided by at least 23. University’s seven league wins have been by an average of 29.6 points.
Both teams aren’t just beating up on league opponents, though. Stuart Hall (19-4, 7-0) made a remarkable statement with Saturday’s 73-44 win over Vanden, the sixth-ranked team from the Sac-Joaquin Section, at the prestigious Crush in the Valley showcase. Nigel Burris scored 22 with 10 rebounds and Miles Amos added 14 despite facing extremely physical defense.
Not to be outdone, University (17-7, 7-1) picked up a massive 61-52 win over Piedmont last Monday at the “I Have A Dream” Showcase at Merritt College.
Much of the attention in the remaining meetings between these talented squads will be placed on seniors, and rightfully so. Amos and Max Fried are among the best not only in San Francisco, but in the entire Bay Area. University’s 6-foot-5 senior forward Charley Moore will also be a major focal point, as he’ll likely be matched up with Burris. Burris will have the upper hand if he can keep Moore on the perimeter, but if Moore can slash to the hoop, he’ll be a major weapon.
For all of the top players, though, this is the sort of tight game that could be decided by depth.
Spencer O’Brien-Steele’s resurgence from injury has been key, and combined with Alex Byrd, Jay-Henry Ryan and Tomas Wolber, the Knights have all sorts of top defenders at their disposal.
The Red Devils are less experienced in terms of depth, but Christian Heng, Raki Cabrera-Scarlata and Ren Zanze have all seen key minutes against top opponents, with Heng stepping up in the point guard role. If they can rise to the occasion, University will have a shot at ending Stuart Hall’s hopes of a perfect league record, something the Devils enjoyed last year.
Should University create a tie atop the standings, the Devils will still have to deal with rival Lick-Wilmerding in Thursday’s annual game that the schools play at Oracle Arena. The Knights also won’t have a cakewalk in their final two games, with a Thursday trip to Marin Academy, but both teams are clear of the rest of the pack and will finish in the top two spots, even if catastrophe strikes in remaining games.