By Josh Levine
Johnny Mrlik scored 12 consecutive points for St. Ignatius during a three-minute stretch of the third quarter to lead the way for the Wildcats’ 60-47 victory over visiting Washington High School on Wednesday night.
Mrlik, who led the Wildcats (5-2) with 21 points, recovered from a slow first half to lead the charge over a Washington (6-6) team that never lost the lead in the first half.
“In the third quarter we really stepped up our defense, and that carried on to the offensive side,” Mrlik said. “We hit open shots and swung the ball well around the perimeter today.”
The Eagles got 24 points from Brenden Glapion, including 10 in the first quarter and 19 by halftime, but he only took only seven shots in the second half, as Wildcats head coach John DeBenedetti decided to move Mrlik to guard Glapion late in the first half.
“That kid Glapion is a talented player,” DeBenedetti said. “Our gameplan was to force him to go left, and he did just that in the first half. In the second half we made him go right. He really was a good offensive presence out there for them.”
The Wildcats played Wednesday night without starting 6 foot, 7 inch center Stephen Domingo, who was not dressed because of a sprained ankle. Antonio Aguilar and Mat Collins replaced Domingo and combined for 18 points.
Even with the loss, the Eagles definitely made a mark on St. Ignatius, a team that Glapion called one of the best teams in the West Catholic Athletic League.
“We proved today that we can hang with the WCAL,” Glapion said. “The AAA needs to be prepared for us.”
Eagles Head Coach Jolinko Lassiter said after the game that the Eagles have a lot of things to figure out before AAA play begins in January.
“If we play hard we will be in good shape,” Lassiter said. “But what kills us is usually one bad quarter. Last week it was the fourth and today it was the third. If we fix that bad quarter we will be OK.”
The Eagles were held to only six points on 2-of-11 shooting in the third.
“There was not as much movement in the second half,” Glapion said. “They were denying me looks and we lost the game in the third quarter.”
St. Ignatius hosts the Sand Dune Classic, which begins on Dec. 28 and has a short holiday break before starting WCAL play on the road at Serra and Bellarmine. DeBenedetti sees the Wildcats making improvements from their 2-12 league record last season.
“We definitely left some wins on the court last season,” DeBenedetti said. “We tried to play a harder preseason this year and that helped us. For some reason we have a tough time starting games and we fall behind. On Friday [against Maria Carrillo] we fell behind by 14 and still won. The players need to learn to trust the coaches, each other, and the game plan.”
Johnny Mrlik – 21 points
Mat Collins – 12 points
E.J. Silvia – 6 points
Antonio Aguilar – 6 points
Nick Johnson – 5 points
Brenden Glapion – 24 points
LeVander Moore – 9 points
Jeremy Jetton – 8 points
Johnny Fu – 6 points