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University wins goofy trophy in battle of close friends

University guard Cole Boake (10) shoots a free throw during the first quarter of the Red Devils’ 52-50 victory over Sacred Heart Prep in a non-league basketball game in San Francisco on Dec. 1, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

What says “the holidays” more than the renewal of a long-running contest between close friends?

For coaches Randy Bessolo of University and Jason Greenfield of St. Ignatius, the tradition continued on Saturday night.

“Jason was my assistant for three years, and he’s a very close friend,” said Bessolo. “We partner together on club basketball in the offseason, and after we play, we debrief each other.”

For now, the “No BS Trophy” will reside in Pacific Heights, rather than the Outer Sunset. Stingy defending at both ends of the floor and power moves to the bucket spurred the Red Devils to a 64-57 win over the Wildcats on Bob Drucker Court.

The trophy was created as a joke after the teams met in May of 2021. Greenfield joked that the game was invalid because John Squire was out with an injured foot, and he promised there would be “no BS” when the teams met again in December. The Wildcats won that meeting, the first in which the trophy was up for grabs, but University earned bragging rights on Saturday.

“It’s too bad that there’s a winner and a loser, because I’m [Coach Greenfield’s] biggest fan and SI’s biggest fan, except when we’re playing each other,” added Bessolo, who’s a regular fixture in the seats behind the Wildcats bench on nights when his Devils aren’t playing.

Cole Boake led University with 20 points, while Joey Kennedy added 17 and Gus Parsons chipped in 14. Boake and his teammates showed little fear in driving the lane throughout the ballgame—which manifested itself in a 21-5 advantage in free throws attempted for the visiting club.

“The game plan going in was to pressure and wear them down, and at first, it didn’t necessarily work,” said Bessolo, noting that he deployed 12 Red Devils in tonight’s rotation. “The depth of our team was the difference.”

The "No BS Trophy" sits on St. Ignatius head coach Jason Greenfield's desk in San Francisco on Dec. 5, 2022. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

It may not be long before the trophy could change hands, as both teams are in the upcoming Bambauer Classic at Marin Catholic, set for Dec. 26 through 29. The Wildcats and Red Devils are on opposite sides of the bracket, but a matchup on the final day is a possibility.

For the teams to compete for the award again, the trophy will need some quick repairs. It broke after University JV coach Dezebee Miles dropped it.

St. Ignatius (3-2) led 18-16 after a seesaw first quarter, and used an 8-0 spurt to keep its advantage at the halftime break, 36-33. Via a 7-1 run, the ’Cats matched their largest lead of the evening, 47-39, with time winding down in the third.

The tables then turned, as University (7-1) reeled off 11 consecutive points to close the third and open the fourth. The Red Devils pulled into a 51-47 lead and never looked back.

Squire paced SI with 16 points, eight of those in the last quarter, to keep the ballgame close. The Devils could have salted the game away from the line sooner, but a series of missed opportunities in that department allowed the Wildcats to close the gap to 60-57 with 36 seconds to go.

In the final 25 seconds, a SI turnover and a loose ball that went University’s way helped the Red Devils score the final four points of the night to conclude a week that also featured wins over Piedmont and Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Another three-game week is in store next week for the Red Devils, including a much-anticipated showdown with Lincoln (3-1) on Dec. 17 at the Rick Boyle Classic. University will host International (2-3) on Tuesday. St. Ignatius travels to Orinda to face Miramonte (2-4), a young squad in the midst of a rebuilding season, next Saturday.