May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Uni pulls off stunning road upset of No. 2 San Marino in opening round of CIF 4AA playoffs

University players celebrate after Friday’s upset playoff win on the road. (Photo courtesy Daryl Bogard, University basketball).

University High School’s boys basketball players and coaches adopted the motto this season: anyone, anywhere, anytime.

The Trojans applied that theory Friday night pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the opening round of the CIF playoffs, defeating No. 2 seeded San Marino 85-80 Friday night in the 4AA playoffs at San Marino. San Marino (20-4) was the Rio Hondo League co-champion.

Unseeded University (13-15) moves on to face Santa Fe from Santa Fe Springs Tuesday at 7 p.m. at University. Santa Fe (12-14) opened the playoffs with a 60-45 victory over Costa Mesa.

The road to the playoffs wasn’t easy. University had to win a fourth-place playoff game in the Pacific Coast League last Sunday just to advance to the playoffs. The Trojans won the game over Woodbridge 59-58.

Friday’s win was cause for celebration for third-year Coach Beau Budde.

“Last night’s win for Uni varsity boys basketball was monumental,” he said Saturday. “The team and I have discussed all season what type of legacy that we want to leave behind and how we want to be remembered. Many of the players said that they want to be remembered as the team that changed the culture and the way that people look at and think about University High School boys basketball.

“This vision that they had is coming to fruition, and as their coach, that has been a beautiful and emotional thing to witness and to be a part of.

“This season, what has been the most fun about University boys basketball wins is that every win has been due to a full team effort. Without the collective whole we never really truly find momentum or success on the court. That puts a lot of pressure on us, but it also makes the winning that much sweeter.

“Last night, I was so proud of the way Joseph Purser, Ali Wahedi and Jad Hajj-Shehadeh played. They really stepped up as players and leaders on the court. But it wasn’t just them … Michael Morizono, Nathaneo Johnson, McKay Nelson, Carson Baxter, and Ryan Lee all stepped up throughout the game as well.”

Purser led University (13-15) with 30 points and four assists. Wahedi, who missed just one field goal all night, scored 27 points and had five assists.

Hajj-Shehaddeh had 11 points and 13 rebounds. Johnson had 10 rebounds before fouling out. The Trojans never trailed in the game.

“It has been such an honor and a blessing to be a part of this journey with this team,” Budde added. “It’s not every day that you get to see people work as hard as these young men do – playing together, finding success, and more importantly finding joy in watching and supporting each other in being successful.”

Budde said the team received outstanding support Friday night. 

“In addition to the players performance, I would also like to acknowledge and thank all those parents, the administration, and the extended Uni family for coming out and supporting us last night. The cheers and positive energy fueled our fire to persevere. 

“We are very excited to host our next game on Tuesday on our home court. We know that the Sante Fe team is a great team and that they will challenge us. We also know that we will be prepared and ready.”

Daryl Bogard from University basketball contributed to this story

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com