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High schoolers take the court at Chase Center

Lick-Wilmerding forward Nick Yang (34) tries to drive past University forward Joey Kennedy (13) during the third quarter of a Bay Counties League basketball game at Chase Center in San Francisco on Jan. 20, 2023. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

The youth movement was on display at Chase Center on Friday.

No, Golden State Warriors rookie Patrick Baldwin Jr. wasn’t there. He was in Ohio with the NBA club, facing the Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a group of high schoolers on the floor as local rivals University and Lick-Wilmerding returned to the arena following a two-year, Covid-induced hiatus.

The University Red Devils won both games: The girls won the opener 59-26 to take sole possession of first place in the Bay Counties League (BCL) West Division, and the boys won the latter affair 72-55, staving off a Klay Thompson-like performance from Tigers guard Max Meyer, who knocked down seven 3-pointers in the losing effort.

“It’s an opportunity that not many people get,” said University forward Joey Kennedy, who led his team with 19 points, collected a game-high 14 rebounds and dished out five assists. “You just try to make the most of it.”

Kennedy’s back-to-back threes in the third quarter, sandwiched around a Jonah Rucker layup at the other end, stretched the lead to 48-41 after Lick-Wilmerding (11-8, 0-4) closed to within a point.

The Tigers, who were coming off an overtime loss to a San Domenico team that University had beaten by 40, trailed by just eight at halftime after Jake McDonald’s four-point play and cut the lead to 40-39 midway through the third on Meyer’s sixth 3-pointer.

“They showed that they can play with anybody,” Lick-Wilmerding head coach Eliot Smith said of his team.

University guard Will Perkins (15) shoots a free throw during the fourth quarter of a Bay Counties League basketball game against Lick-Wilmerding at Chase Center in San Francisco on Jan. 20, 2023. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

Ultimately, University did pull away behind strong fourth quarters from Cole Boake and Will Perkins. Boake scored eight of his 10 points in the final quarter, and Perkins scored seven of his 14 in the stretch. Perkins’ and-1 with 4:23 to go off a Kennedy rebound and stretch pass extended the lead to 59-43.

Still, the Tigers had one last counterpunch in them, cutting it to 10 twice on Meyer’s final 3-pointer and a three by Peter Drew, who finished with 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Drew had missed last Friday’s loss to Urban with an illness.

“He’s a confidence guy,” Smith said of Drew. “The guys love him, and they believe in every word he says.”

While Meyer and Drew carried the bulk of the offensive load for Lick-Wilmerding, University employed a balanced attack. All five Red Devil starters scored at least nine points, with Luke Bradley scoring eight of his 10 in the first half and Gus Parsons scoring all nine of his over the first two quarters.

‘It’s so surreal to be here’

Unicersity guard Izzy Perez (1) tries to dribble past Lick-Wilmerding guard Natalie Mak (3) during a girls basketball game at Chase Center in San Francisco on Jan. 20, 2023. | Ethan Kassel/The Standard

Both schools clearly appreciated the opportunity to play at such a prestigious venue—the two boys teams came together following the game to pose for a photo, but perhaps no player appreciated it more than University girls point guard Izzy Perez.

“It’s so surreal to be on the same court that Klay, Steph and Draymond play at,” Perez said.

Perez was one of the stars for a Red Devils team that took sole possession of first place in the BCL West in authoritative fashion. She had 10 points, three assists and a pair of rebounds in the second quarter alone, a frame that University (14-4, 5-0) won 19-6 to open up a commanding 29-14 lead. Seven of her points came in the space of a minute, including a 3-pointer that gave her team a 20-14 lead. She delivered a steal and layup moments later.

Gabriella Kelley led the way for the Red Devils with 13 points and 14 rebounds, while Tamalpais transfer Olivia Soenens and sophomore Damysia Walls each scored 10 apiece.

Hailey Moy led Lick-Wilmerding (10-8, 2-1) with eight points.