By Jeremy Balan
Behind a game-high 19 points from senior Eilise O’Connor, St. Ignatius Prep advanced to the CIF-Central Coast Section Division III championship game with a 50-47 win over West Catholic rival Sacred Heart Cathedral in the semifinals on Wednesday at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
“She’s our catalyst,” St. Ignatius Head Coach Michael Mulkerrins said of O’Connor. “She’s a little kid with a huge heart.”
Down by three points with five seconds remaining, Sacred Heart (13-13) had an opportunity to tie the game, but senior guard Dannika Navales-Lugtu’s contested three-pointer fell just short as time expired.
“[The game] was kind of a microcosm of our season,” said Sacred Heart Head Coach Mike Carey. “We didn’t get a stop when we needed to, we had unforced turnovers. Little things kept getting in the way.”
St. Ignatius senior Caroline Barrack also scored in double-figures with 12 points.
“We played much better as a team,” Mulkerrins said. “We didn’t just stand around and let one player carry us.”
The Wildcats (19-8) held Sacred Heart standout center Kamilah Jackson to just eight points, well below her season average of 17.9, with a 2-3 zone offense that limited Jackson’s opportunities inside.
“We know each other so well, it turns into a game of cat and mouse,” Carey said.
The Fightin’ Irish were led offensively by junior point guard Tomisha Miller, who had a team-high 14 points, all coming in the second half.
With the win, St. Ignatius will face another WCAL opponent, Valley Christian, in the championship game on Saturday at Santa Clara University.
The two teams split their previous two meetings, but the Wildcats dominated Valley Christian in their last meeting on Feb. 12, 61-29.