University advances to NorCal Division V championship

It’s just one point.

Every basketball fan knows this simple fact and it may seem to be basic math, but that’s the only difference between a layup and a shot from beyond the 3-point arc.

But when you’re trading baskets with University High School, those points can add up.

Pinewood matched the visiting Red Devils’ run-and-gun pace in the CIF Division V Northern California semifinals late Saturday, but while the Panthers ruled the paint, University connected on 13 3-pointers in an 81-75 win.

“We call the 3-point shot the great equalizer,” said University senior guard Zio Enriquez.

Enriquez connected on three shots from distance and had a game-high 26 points, which proved crucial as the Panthers (23-6) decided they wouldn’t let University standout guard Noah Springwater beat them in the second half.

After Springwater scored eight points and doled out seven assists in the first half, Pinewood junior Solomone Wolfgramm blanketed him the rest of the way. The constant pressure limited his scoring (he would finish with 15 points, but only took three shots from the field in the second half), but also prevented him from distributing the ball to open shooters.

Up next on the docket for University is a rematch with top-seeded St. Joseph Notre Dame in the NorCal championship on Saturday at Folsom High School.

To say the Red Devils are welcoming a rematch would be a gross understatement, after the Pilots dismantled them 63-32 in the CIF-North Coast Section final just over a week ago.

St. Joseph escaped an upset to unseeded Vacaville Christian in their own game on Saturday to advance to the NorCal final.

Last season, the Red Devils upset the Pilots in the NorCal semifinals, then lost to Branson in the regional final.

“St. [Joseph] sure taught us something last time,” Bessolo said. “Last year, after we beat them in the semis, we celebrated too early and went in against Branson over confident. Because they beat us so bad, we won’t be going in overconfident.”

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