Boys Basketball: St. Ignatius remains undefeated at home with win over Bellarmine

St. Ignatius forward E.J. Silvia rises for a shot in the lane against Bellarmine on Saturday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Doug Ko)

By Ernest Stone

Tied at 52-52 with 2:53 left to play in regulation, St. Ignatius broke from a timeout with the task of taking back control of a game that, just two quarters earlier, they began to dominate.

St. Ignatius senior guard Johnny Mrlik leaves his feet to make a pass to forward Mat Collins (left) against Bellarmine on Saturday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Doug Ko)

Fortunately for the Wildcats, current West Catholic Athletic League leading scorer Johnny Mrlik’s three-point shot just two seconds later established a 55-52 lead, one which they would maintain to defeat league foe Bellarmine 59-56 and remain undefeated at home.

“Confidence plays a big part in everyone’s game,” said Mrlik, who finished with a game-high 23 points. “It’s one of those shots that you work on in practice, and seeing that it was open, I knew I had to take it.”

During the first half, it looked as if the game was well in hand for the Wildcats (14-5, 6-3), who, after falling behind 10-4 during the opening stages of the game, stormed back to enter the second half with a 32-25 lead.

St. Ignatius’ first-half success was due in large part to its size and ability to create second chances off of misses, with forwards E.J. Silvia and Stephen Domingo exposing the Bells’ lack of an inside presence.

“The second quarter is where they really won that game,” said Bellarmine head coach Patrick Schneider. “Everyone on their team played fantastic games, and their mixing up of their defenses gave us trouble.”

For a six minute stretch that spanned from the end of the first quarter through the first five minutes of the second quarter, Bellarmine (10-8, 3-5) mustered only two points on just four shot attempts.

Yet just as Bellarmine was unable to utilize its big men to establish a stronghold on the inside, Bells two-sport athlete Kristoffer Olugbode was able to grab seven rebounds from the point guard position.

Olugbode’s production, combined with timely shots from teammates Alex Chapman and Grant Vermeer, sparked a second-half push from the Bells, who reclaimed their first lead since the first quarter when they went ahead 50-48 with 4:40 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Unfortunately for Bellarmine, St. Ignatius utilized its substantial home-court advantage to tie the game back up and cue Mrlik’s clutch three-point shot.

“There is something special going on here this year,” said St. Ignatius head coach John DeBenedetti. “Our games have become a school-wide event, and when you have home-court advantage like this it’s huge.”

Bellarmine’s inability to send the game to overtime sealed yet another close loss for the Bells, who have lost five games by four points or less this season.

For the Wildcats, home games have been a lock thanks to an enthusiastic student body, yet for Mrlik, the home-court success is only a part of the big picture.

“We’ve had our troubles on the road this year,” Mrlik said. “But our success this year, and to be a part of what’s going on feels good, and we’ll just have to try and get a few teams at their place.”

Scoring Leaders

St. Ignatius
Johnny Mrlik – 23
E.J. Silvia – 12
Stephen Domingo – 10
Mat Collins – 5
Antonio Aguilar – 4

Kristoffer Olugbode – 14
Grant Vermeer – 12
Alex Chapman – 10
Nick McCue – 8
Three players tied with 2 points

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. Rahm says:

    I thunk somebody’s coaching job is gonna be safe for now!!!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lets go SI!!!!!

  3. Johnny Drama says:

    Way to go CATS!!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Lets go CATS!! KEEP IT UP!

  5. Bgame says:

    Riding good talent is different than actually COACHING good talent. Seems to me that this is a great group of kids who have been organized to play strong defense. The offensive mistakes are glaring, and talented kids seem to be doing the work in spite of these coaching errors. Not sure this should be rewarded.

  6. Catfan says:

    Hey, b game. Let it go, man. This guy can coach. No one was talking about their great talent in the beginning of the year, and now you seem to want to take credit away from this man who has worked really hard to get this team to achieve. He helped his team beat Mitty. That team has talent, but I don’t hear anyone questioning kennedys coaching.

  7. Pablo says:

    That Silvia kid is awsome! way better than the ould man!

  8. Catfan says:

    This coach had talent from the 1st year he coached he even cut players with talent. His record shows his style of coaching and his team right now is winning with defense which I think is not all due to his coaching. This coach is lucky he’s winining now. We will see if he’s really gonna hold on to his coaching job!

  9. Catfan says:

    @bgame true !!!

  10. SI Cats says:

    Nice to finally see some strong student support at the past couple of games. Years ago, Drucker Court was packed for almost every game…always nice to play in front of a loud, supportive crowd.

  11. SF says:

    Why was the game played in the old gym?

  12. Bgame says:

    Are you seriously comparing the Mitty coach (WCAL player of the year twice, D1 college, professional in Europe) with the SI coach (what are his credentials anyway)?

  13. WCAL Alum says:

    Yes, great crowd and outstanding cheering section. Like old days before co-ed. I think there was a mass on Sunday in bigger gym (ie set up).

    Eagleson was coach when all those players were at Mitty. Kennedy will have his day.

    Bottom line. However SI is doing it (particularly at home) they are doing the little things right. To say coaching doesnt have anything to do with it is naive. All the little things (solid d; and making freethrows).

  14. Cats pride says:

    There was a mother student breakfast on Sunday morning.
    The SI coach is good but not great. He does have them playing great D though, and I have to give him a lot of credit for that. However he does seem to rely on Mrlick a little too much. When Mrlick can’t get a shot off, or is just missing them (ie against Serra) the offense becomes stagnant making it a good thing they get so many free throw’s. I would like to see them run more plays – but it’s easy for me to say that from the stands.

    Good luck Cats.

  15. SI cat fan says:

    I would give credit to the assistants for having the team playing great D not the head coach I have seen guy coach over the years he doesn’t do well. This year maybe different but wait till next year when Mrlik graduates and he will falter again
    Unless there are great talents coming in, the freshman A team is undefeated and I see a lot of good players in that team.

  16. Anonymous says:

    i agree with pablo

  17. Cats Pride says:

    True but he will have Domingo, and the JV team has a lot of talent. The frosh A team also has this kid (Trevor Dunbar) whose ranked the best point guard in the city. You can look up his highlight video on youtube. So offensively, I think they’re set for a while.

  18. Fan says:

    With Domingo and other current sophomore talent and with the current freshman Dunbar, SI should be set! But probably still needs a better head coach to get the most out of these guys.

    • jbalan says:

      Alright guys, frankly I’ve heard enough about coaching on this post. The team is playing well, and I’m sure a lot of that has to do with the coaching. Enjoy the good play, and stop trying to find things wrong with a good thing.

  19. Cats fan2 says:

    @ cats pride I agree with you, although I hope he knows how to coach and bring out their God given skills which I haven’t seen previous years. Regarding frosh A kid Dunbar he is truly a talented, naturally gifted too flashy at times though and need to simplify things a little bit might move him up to Varsity next year. SI boys basketball is gonna be good the next four years I hope they will coached very well!!!

  20. Cats fan says:

    @jabalan it’s just a matter of opinion. Nothing is wrong with expressing ones opinions. I think we are still living in America last time I checked. Sanfranpreps is doing a great job reporting HS sports in our area, comments and opinions are welcome isn’t it ? Thanks

    • jbalan says:

      I’m just making an appeal to reason, because some of the posts are coming across ungrateful.

      Seems like the comments are constantly focusing on the negative lately, even when teams like SI are doing very well.

      SI has a very good team this year, so instead of complaining about the coach, enjoy what you have.

  21. MFan says:

    I noticed the highly regarded super sophomore & high major prospect Domingo does it all & makes bigs plays that have resulted in several major wins this year.

  22. SI Cats says:

    I’ve seen Domingo on several occasions. Talented and very long. Needs to bulk up somewhat and approach game w/ tougher attitude. At times, seems to play soft. Can get frustrated if shots aren’t falling early which at times leads to forcing more shots. But a talented player with a lot of upside.

  23. MFan says:

    Domingo & Gordon are major talents. Teams win because of talented players, they both elevate their teams.

  24. SF Prep Fan says:

    Talent is a big part of winning, but SI is winning because of heart and senior leadership through Silvia, Mrlik and Collins. Did you see Collins shut down Gordon? Love watching Siliva play ‘tackle football’ defense and he only takes shots he can make. SI relies on Mrlik for scoring not by coach’s choice, but because their pre-shot era offense doesn’t generate open looks and he’s the only one who can create his own shot. He gets fouled plenty and I don’t think there is another player in the state you’d rather have taking free throws. Why are we talking about a Freshman point guard when Waters can flat out play? So can Quintana. And Domingo is getter tougher every game — great muscle bucket to beat Serra. Add Aquilar and Johnson to the mix, this team still has upside. They need to change their pre-shot clock era offense so they take pressure off the point guard and generate easy shots which all their competitors get — then they might do something special.

  25. Cats pride says:

    @SF Prep Fan – I agree completely but comeone had said the offense will falter w/out Mrlick I was just pointing out all the talent that have coming up. Waters is a true pg and plays the position very well. He’s fast and knows the position, but having to compete with Dunbar will be tough, especially with the other talented sophomores.

  26. Cats says:

    @ Cats pride
    Haven’t seen Dunbar yet, but doubt he can play full court pressure d like Waters can. I’ve heard good things about Dunbar though. Waters is a two-sport varsity athlete as a sophomore in football and basketball. Should be great backcourt combination next year.

Leave a Comment

Comments that advocate violence, racism, or libel, as well as comments featuring profanity will not be permitted. Repeat offenders will have their commenting privileges suspended. All comments must abide by our Commenting Code of Conduct.