One of the old sports sayings is never question the heart of a champion.
When it comes to the Bay Counties League, that champion is University.
With the Urban High School crowd revved up for its biggest boys’ basketball game since 2004, Chris Mah and University outlasted Urban 62-56 at Kezar Pavilion.
University (15-10, 7-2), which used a 17-2 run in the second quarter to take control of the game, clinched at least a tie for its fourth consecutive BCL West championship.
“Obviously Urban is a great team and Joe Skiffer has done a helluva job with that team, and in spite of them hitting us in the mouth, we took our lumps and bounced back,” University coach Randy Bessolo said.
Mah led University with 18 points, many of which came on drives to the basket.
But it was his two big assists late in the fourth quarter that sealed the win for University.
Clinging to a 50-44 lead with 3:25 left in the game and Urban charging hard on the strength of 10 fourth-quarter points from senior center Julian Matulich, Mah hit junior James Burton for a wide open 3-pointer to stretch the Red Devils’ lead to 53-44.
Again, Urban would get within six with just over a minute left, but Mah hit junior David Medoff for a crushing 3-pointer, giving University a 58-49 lead.
“I was mainly focused on finishing shots because I felt I was playing soft in the first quarter,” Mah said. “I’m really impressed with the team in picking up the slack tonight.”
Urban (15-9, 6-3) was led by Matulich’s 20 points and seven rebounds, including five blocks, and junior Nate Cohen added 20 points for the Blues.
The Blues, who play Stuart Hall on Friday to determine the second seed in next weeks BCL West, couldn’t slow Mah down when they needed to.
“University is a good team and at the end of the day, we could not keep Chris Mah in front of us,” Urban coach Joe Skiffer said.
“Not only was he scoring, but he was breaking down our defense over and over again.”
Urban had a shot in the fourth quarter, shooting 63 percent in the final frame, but their second-quarter miscues were too much to overcome despite a strong start to the game.
Cohen scored eight first-quarter points, leading Urban to a 12-6 lead, but seven turnovers in the second quarter gave University the chance to go into halftime leading 28-17.
Still, Skiffer and company won’t be hanging their heads after the tough defeat.
“We showed more maturity than the first time we played University,” Skiffer said. “Hopefully that can carry us forward in the playoffs.”
While Urban and the rest of the BCL West will be gunning for University, Tuesday showed that it won’t be easy wrestling the title away from the Red Devils.
“We’ve faced adversity all season, with three players lost to injuries,” Bessolo said. “But just like our season, we got hit in the mouth and bounced back. And Chris was the central figure.”
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