For the first time this season, the Sacred Heart Cathedral boys’ basketball team looked rattled on the road against Riordan.
Sacred Heart missed 15 free throws, had 21 turnovers and the Crusaders held standout forwards Taylor Johns and Joshua Fox to a combined 15 points, but the Irish had just enough to outlast Riordan in a 50-41 West Catholic Athletic League win.
“We were flustered and so out of whack mentally and that led to us playing like that,” Sacred Heart coach Darrell Barbour said. “Why did that happen to us tonight? I can’t tell you.”
The Crusaders arguably guarded Fox and Johns better than any WCAL team this season and held the pair to just 15 shot attempts from the floor by employing various types of zone defenses.
“It was definitely mission accomplished on the defensive end,” Riordan coach Rich Buckner said. “I can count on one hand the number of games where we’ve laid an egg defensively. That’s always been a constant.”
Unfortunately for Riordan, its defensive success did not carry over into the offensive half of the court, where the Crusaders shot just over 26 percent from the floor. Sacred Heart started the game on an 8-0 run, led 22-12 at the half and Riordan cut the lead to six points three times in the fourth quarter, but could not get the deficit down to a single possession.
“We had some good looks and we were pleased with the [ball] movement, but we just couldn’t knock down those shots,” Buckner said. “As much as our defense has been a solid constant, our shooting has been our weakness.”
With Johns and Fox largely corralled, Sacred Heart guards Herman Pratt and Tyler Petroni led the Irish in scoring with 13 and 11 points, respectively.
It was Pratt’s performance on the boards, however, that proved most crucial.
The junior had seven rebounds and five on the offensive glass, including several in the fourth quarter, when the Crusaders needed defensive stops.
“He’s just a stud and I do not take for granted having a kid like that,” Barbour said of Pratt. “It’s amazing what he does every day, with his effort and the way he competes. He flies under the radar, but we feed off of him and how hard he plays.”
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