KEZAR PAVILION — The University Red Devils are certainly familiar with overtime games and drama at Kezar Pavilion, but that doesn’t make those nail-biters easy.
“They’re a lot of fun when they’re over, but living through them is torture,” head coach Randy Bessolo said.
Last year, the Red Devils reached the NorCal Division III Semifinals by winning in triple overtime in the first round, then beating Foothill-Palo Cedro in one OT period in the second round. More recently, they avenged three losses to Stuart Hall with last Saturday’s NCS Division 5 Championship victory.
On Thursday, University eked out a 61-57 double-overtime win over the Mountain View Spartans in the second round of the CIF Division III Tournament, and will host Foothill-Palo Cedro at Kezar once again this Saturday. The Cougars, hailing from a suburb of Redding, will return to the City for a NorCal semifinal.
“There’s something about this team,” said Max Fried, who had 15 points and a game-high 18 rebounds in the win. “It’s a team full of winners. We don’t look like the best team, but we keep winning and we keep going.”
After leading for much of the second half, third-seeded University (25-9) needed Fried to drive the length of the court to score and send the game into overtime, tied at 48. Zach Moran had scored underneath with 20.7 seconds left to put the Spartans on top, though the Red Devils’ star was quick to answer.
“This is Max’s team, and I’ll argue he’s the best player in San Francisco,” Bessolo said. “Whenever we can put the ball in his hands with the game on the line, I believe in him.”
A 3-pointer by Fried gave the Red Devils a 53-48 lead in OT, but Mountain View (24-5) wasn’t done. A Jack Resnick free throw and Jailen Daniel-Dalton basket cut the lead to two with 48 seconds left, and a put-back by Daniel-Dalton at the buzzer sent the game to a second overtime. The 11th-seeded Spartans had called timeout with three seconds left after failing to find an open shot, and in the time after the timeout they managed to get a mid-range attempt by seven-footer Will Dominguez and a put-back.
“That was a long three seconds,” Bessolo said.
Undeterred, University scored the final six points in the second OT after Jack Resnick gave the Spartans a 57-55 lead. Charlie Kennedy scored off the glass and Charley Moore took a pass from Fried to put the Devils back on top with a gentle dunk, just barely touching the rim with his fingertips.
“Charley and Charlie are big game players,” Bessolo added. “Both were big-time down the stretch.”
Moore scored eight of his 15 in the extra period, while Kennedy’s game-tying basket made for the last of his 10 points. Moore was also key in slowing the 7-foot-1 Dominguez down, and limiting him to a single point.
“He locked him up the whole way,” Fried said of Moore. “He didn’t let him get to his spots, and the weak-side guys did a good job helping Charley when he got into sticky situations.”
While the Devils did a great job of locking Dominguez up, it was much tougher to slow down Sam Tobin, a 6-foot-4 forward who had Mountain View’s first 10 points, 14 in the first half and a game-high 20 overall.
“He’s a great player,” Bessolo said. “Fortunately, Reese Johnson managed to lock him up in the second half.”
Johnson went scoreless for the night, but his three assists, four rebounds and defense on Tobin were huge. Tobin had given the Spartans an 8-1 lead five minutes in, and he willed them to within two at half after a pair of J.K. Baker 3-pointers gave University a 23-15 lead.
Christian Heng scored seven of his nine points in the third for the Devils, but when he got into foul trouble and was forced out of the game with 2:29 left in overtime, it was up to Moore to take on a bigger role.
“I learned how to handle the pressure from Spencer (Spivy) and Julian (Manyika) last year,” the Middlebury College-bound senior said. “I just did what they had done last year.”
Resnick finished with 14 for Mountain View, the Central Coast Section Division II champions, all coming in the second half and overtime. Jake Pappas scored nine for a team that had also gone to overtime Tuesday, winning at Modesto-Central Catholic after trailing by as much as 19. With the towering Dominguez, Tobin and two others at 6-foot-4 and Pappas at 6-foot-2, the Spartans’ size posed a problem, but didn’t end up keeping the Devils away from what they wanted to do.
“They’re so big, we wanted to play inside-out, but at the end of the day we wanted to go back to who we are, which is points in the paint,” Bessolo said.charley moorecharlie kennedyhigh school basketballjack resnickMax Friedmountain view high schoolmountain view spartansPrep Sportssam tobinsan francisco university high schooluniversity red devils