If its blowout win over Miramonte in the second round of the Northern California bracket of California Interscholastic Federation Division III playoffs Saturday didn’t validate the Sacred Heart Cathedral boys’ basketball team’s top seed, the performance from the Irish on Tuesday sure did.
The Irish played one of their sloppiest games of the season, committing 21 turnovers, but still cruised to a 69-51 win over visiting Center of Antelope in the Northern California regional semifinals.
The Irish advance to face second-seeded Bishop O’Dowd in the Northern California championship game on Saturday at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento.
Sacred Heart led 36-26 at the half, but came out of the locker room inspired, outscoring the Cougars 20-6 in the third quarter to open up its largest lead of the game at 62-34 with 6:14 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“To be honest, I was not satisfied with Taylor [Johns] and [Joshua Fox] in the first half,” Sacred Heart coach Darrell Barbour said. “I thought they did some things out of character and it led to their play. Most of it was focus. They weren’t where they needed to be and they are our leaders. They did some things that were uncharacteristic and they heard about it at halftime.”
The pair of standout senior forwards combined to score 29 points, but with intermittent malfunctions on the offensive end, the Irish defense was the difference, especially in the crucial third quarter.
Led by a standout defensive performance from junior guard Herman Pratt and six combined blocks from Fox and Johns, the Irish held Center to just 2-of-11 shooting in the third quarter and forced eight turnovers.
“Our defense triggered our offense and that third quarter, and it started with Herman and Khalil [James],” Barbour said.
The Irish now shift their focus to the championship game against O’Dowd, a team that beat them decisively in the NorCal tournament last season.
“We know we’re going to play a very good team,” Barbour said. “The ball is going to go up on Saturday and we’re going to see who the best team is.”
ST. MARY'S (STOCKTON) 68, ST. IGNATIUS 45
A stellar season by the St. Ignatius girls’ basketball team came to a screeching halt in the CIF Division II Northern California regional semifinals, as St. Mary’s of Stockton rolled to a 68-45 victory against the Wildcats. The Wildcats (26-6) were led by freshman Josie Little, who finished with 13 points.
SACRED HEART PREP 58, MODESTO CHRISTIAN 57
Senior Cole McConnell scored a game-high 25 points, including hitting on four 3-pointers, to lift the Gators to a huge road win in the boys’ Division IV NorCal regional semifinals.
NEWARK MEMORIAL 48, SERRA 46
Damien Banford scored a basket in the final seconds to snap a 46-46 tie in the boys’ Division II NorCal regional semifinals. Serra (24-5) was led by 12 points from Henry Caruso in the loss.