By Bonta Hill
Down 11-7 midway through the first quarter, Sacred Heart Cathedral head coach Darrell Barbour sent all five of his starters to the bench for their sluggish play.
The tactic was effective, as the Irish bench sparked an 18-3 first half run, and visiting Sacred Heart ran past longtime rival Riordan High School to a 70-59 victory in West Catholic Athletic League play.
“We’ve been getting off to fast starts, and I’m trying to figure out why that is, because we’re not coming out playing with a lot of energy,” Barbour said. “The second unit came in there and gave us some life, and when the first unit came back in, they picked up where the second unit left off.”
Sacred Heart (14-4, 6-2) shot an efficient 53 percent for the game, and guard Martin Folan led the Irish with 13 points in a very balanced offensive display.
“We shared the ball well, because Riordan played us in a lot of zone this time around, and our guys did a good job of finding the open man,” Barbour said. “We shot the ball well, but we also shot it with confidence and it showed tonight. It was good to see our guys make some shots.”
Sacred Heart junior forward Joshua Fox turned in a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, Taylor Johns added 8 points with 11 rebounds, and Robert Yee chipped in with 10 points off the bench, as Sacred Heart took over sole possession of second place after Serra’s loss to St. Ignatius on Wednesday.
For Riordan (7-11, 1-7), the first two quarters were a microcosm of their season. The Crusaders started fast, only to follow up their aggressive play with cold spells and turnovers.
After leading for most of the first quarter, Riordan wouldn’t hit a field goal in the second frame until 2:47 was remaining in the half.
The Crusaders got another solid effort from Aaron Anderson who had 17 points with five assists, but they turned the ball over seven times in the second quarter and shot only 27 percent, falling behind 32-21 at the half.
“Before the game, we talked about the snowball effect, not to let Sacred Heart’s 4-0, 6-2 runs turn into a 10-point swing,” said Riordan head coach Rich Buckner. “That’s exactly what happened, as guys got away from the game plan and let the snowball effect get them.”
To Riordan’s credit, they didn’t lay down to their hated cross-town rivals. After falling behind 55-40, the Crusaders went on a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to nine in the fourth quarter.
But Yee sank three-pointers on consecutive possessions to put the Irish back up 61-46 and Sacred Heart was on its way to completing a regular-season sweep.
Despite the big win, Barbour still had concern for his team’s slow starts, something that he hopes doesn’t plague the Irish down the road.
“When we start getting in these bigger games, we have to correct that because we can’t get behind and start giving teams confidence,” Barbour said. “But it was a good win. Every win in this league is a good win.”
Sacred Heart Cathedral
Martin Folan – 13
Joshua Fox – 11
Robert Yee – 10
Herman Pratt – 9
Taylor Johns – 8
Aaron Anderson – 17
Anthony Castillo – 13
Brandon Edison – 11
Graham Gilleran – 6
Two tied with 4 points