REDDING — The University Prep boys basketball team knows how to flip the switch.
A third-quarter burst was all the Panthers needed to seize control and never look back.
Friday night the top-seeded Panthers shook off a lackluster first half and exploded for a 20-7 third quarter and knocked off eighth-seeded Paradise 50-30 win in a Northern Section Division IV quarterfinal. All playoff coverage is sponsored by Redding Rancheria.
The U-Prep basketball team continues their quest for a second straight Division IV section title.
A slow first quarter found both teams struggling to find rhythm and at the end of the first U-Prep held a 7-5 lead. The Panthers tried working the ball to the high post early and often but found little success in the first half due to the Bobcats defense. However, they held a 20-16 advantage heading into the break.
The Panthers’ halftime adjustments of shifting junior Tanner Stephens to the perimeter propelled them to a 20-7 quarter due in part of Trevor Jones’ eight-point quarter and ‘big man’ Logan Hawes working in the paint. That was all U-Prep needed to create breathing room and cruise to a 20-point win in their first playoff game of the year.
“We took Tanner and moved him off the high post and moved him to the corner. We felt like we weren’t getting the ball very well to the high post when he was there,” said U-Prep coach Mark Stephens.
“We wanted to get him away from the basket a bit and create more space around the basket and we did and Logan went to work and started scoring around the rim. That switch there made the difference.”
Hawes led the way for the Panthers with 17 points finding his way inside with reverse layups and second-chance opportunities. Tanner Stephens followed him with 12 points, finishing in the lane with mid-range jumpers and a late fourth quarter dunk. Jones ignited the big run in the third period, scoring seven points in the quarter, nine overall, with attacks off the dribble and a tough and-1.
“We started applying full-court pressure, started driving more and attacking the rim and Logan is an incredible post, I think he’s the best post in our area,” said Jones.
For the Bobcats, senior Ben Baber had a team-high 14, followed by Elliot Levin and Ethan swart who added six each, but it wasn’t enough.
U-Prep advances to the D-IV semifinals Tuesday in Redding and hosts No. 5 Oroville, a 60-57 winner over No. 4 Sutter.
“We’ve just been year-round development of kids for the last six or seven years that I’ve been here. The parents have bought in, the players have bought in and we just have a great group of kids that are smart and work hard and have figured out a way to develop a good program here,” said coach Stephens on the culture of his basketball program.
Paradise finishes the season with an overall record of 14-13.
“First season as head coach, these kids I’ve coached for about four years,” said Paradise coach Nathan Johnson. “Since they were freshman I’ve coached them. It’s a real tough loss cause they feel like little kids to me, like they’re my kids.”
U-Prep 50, Paradise 30
University Prep 7-13-20-10–50
Paradise (14-13): Baber 14, Swart 6, Levin 6, Rodriguez 2, Grivette 2.
University Prep (21-9): Hawes 17, Stephens 12, Jones 9, Lipman 7, Randhawa 3, Cox 2.
3-Pointers — Paradise 3 ( Levin 2, Swart); U-Prep 1 (Randhawa).
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