Boys Basketball: Sacred Heart evens the score with win over St. Ignatius

Sacred Heart Cathedral junior guard Tyler Petroni (left) tries to drive past St. Ignatius senior forward E.J. Silvia on Wednesday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

Sacred Heart Cathedral may have lost the chance to regain the Bruce-Mahoney Trophy in its first meeting against St. Ignatius, but the Irish got a slice of redemption on Wednesday, and it came with a bullet.

The Irish may be playing their best basketball of the season, and showed it against St. Ignatius, serving the Wildcats their first loss at home with a 53-36 win in West Catholic Athletic League play.

Sacred Heart Cathedral junior forward Joshua Fox drives past St. Ignatius senior guard Johnny Mrlik on Wednesday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Devin Chen)

“I don’t know if it was redemption, because I really felt we let one get away in the Bruce-Mahoney [game],” said Sacred Heart head coach Darrell Barbour. “In the second half we were just lights-out. I just love to see us when we’re playing hard and flying around, but with some discipline.”

The Irish (16-4, 8-2) began the game on an 11-0 run by hitting their first four shots from the floor and held a 20-15 lead after the first quarter, but the Wildcats (14-6, 6-4)limited Sacred Heart to just four points in the second, and the Irish clung to a 24-21 lead at the break.

“When you spot the team 11 points, and you have to battle back, it’s hard,” said St. Ignatius head coach John DeBenedetti. “In a game like this, that’s too much to overcome.”

But the Wildcats actually took the lead, their only one of the game, early in the third quarter after a three-pointer from sophomore forward Stephen Domingo, but the Irish responded with a 12-2 run to end the quarter and opened up the lead to as many as 19 points in the fourth.

The Irish got a team-high 10 points from junior forward Taylor Johns, but nine Sacred Heart players would finish with points, including 17 from the bench. Leading the charge from the bench was senior guard Robert Yee, who had nine points, six coming in the fourth quarter as the Irish were pulling away.

“It shows that our team is filled with a lot of skilled players and we don’t have to rely on one or two players to do all the scoring,” Yee said. “After our starting five, we can bring people off the bench and continue the momentum, and that’s critical.”

Standout senior guard Johnny Mrlik led the Wildcats with a game-high 15 points, but they shot just 25 percent from the floor as a team and 3-for-17 from three-point range. What may have hurt them most, however, was attempting to play up to the Irish tempo, which Sacred Heart imposed on both ends of the floor.

“When the game picked up in terms of speed, there’s something intriguing about playing a fast, fun game,” DeBenedetti said. “But that’s just not a game we can play against these guys.”

With the win, the Irish hold on to second place in the WCAL, just a game behind Archbishop Mitty. If the Irish can hold serve at home against St. Francis on Friday, they would face off with Mitty on Saturday for a shot at a share of first place.

“I told them that this would be a big week for us,” Barbour said. “The longer you go, and if you keep winning, the bigger the games get. They’ve embraced that and they like the challenge.”

For DeBenedetti and the Wildcats, they can only hope for their own dose of redemption in the WCAL playoffs and the CIF-Central Coast Section Division III playoffs.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt we’ll see them again,” DeBenedetti said. “This is going to be at least a trilogy, and we’ll be ready for the rubber match in a week or in a month, whenever it comes up.”

Scoring Leaders

Sacred Heart Cathedral
Taylor Johns – 10
Robert Yee – 9
Joshua Fox – 8
Martin Folan – 6
Zachary Tapel – 6

St. Ignatius
Johnny Mrlik – 15
Stephen Domingo – 9
Antonio Aguilar – 3
E.J. Silvia – 3
Two players tied with 2 points

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38 Comments

  1. SI Cats says:

    SI needed to slow game down but failed to do so. Horrendous shooting from field did not help-many missed open looks.

    Third game should be interesting. I think if they played each other ten times they’d each win five.

  2. Irish Green says:

    Congrats to coach B, he had the whole team fired up from start to finish and we won every aspect of the game. If SH shoots like last night, we can beat Mitty. What about Taylor’s three? I’m not sure I follow the article above, SH definitely plays an up tempo game, but I didn’t see SI play an up tempo game. They went small and tried to press — usually doesn’t work against a more athletic team. On offense, SI brings the ball up slowly, they pass around in circles 35 ft away from the basket and then someone goes one on one with 8 secs on the shot clock. With our athletes and Coach B’s experience, SI will have a tough time scoring against us. We want them again — give us their non-offense offense anyday. Oh yah, did I see SI’s coach call a time out when he had a 3 on 1 fastbreak? Just curious, did he play basketball?

  3. Bgame says:

    @Irish Green. Humiliating, but true!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    SI coach unraveled last night the time out called on a 3 to 1 break is a dumb move, he’s been coaching that way since day 1 , i am not surprised why parents and alums want him out. One thing more with 4 mins left he went small with Johns and Fox of SH was still there, practically gave up with 4 mins left at the game. I will be very surprised if he will still be coaching next year, unless SI will go deep in the playoffs.

  5. IrishAlum says:

    If they played ten times the Irish would win nine times, too bad they lost the big one to SI. The combo of Johns and Fox is simply too physical and big for the Wildcats. Johns and Fox can thrive in a half-court game where they would dominate the paint but they would also thrive in an up-tempo game where they are simply too fast for most bigs. If the shooting of Folan and the other guards heat up it is an easy 20 point win. PRESS THEM ALL GAME COACH! The SI guards cannot handle it.

  6. Biggie Big... says:

    The better team won tonight, the mahony game was lost only because SH had missed 9 freethrows. Tonight it was a good level of ball playing but I don’t understand why the big kid from SI who bangs and rebounds and the team does well when the Aguilar 6ft5 kid is in the game. What is the SI coach thinking of keeping him on the bench for 3 qtrs. Fox and Aguilar grew up together playing and training for St.Marys SF team and Aguilar could have made a huge difference…Good game and curious to see what happens in the near future for these teams…good luck kids…

  7. Anonymous says:

    SI’s offense is old, predictabble.

  8. SF Prep Fan says:

    Biggie Big.. I agree, don’t understand SI’s small lineup as Collins and Aguilar were both out much of the game. I would have both in together most of the game and used double post offense similar to how Burlingame plays. Play to your strengths. Press didn’t seem to bother SI as turnovers didn’t impact the game but SH’s tight half court defense did. Same old story, SI has a very poor half court offensive system that is easily defended with pressure and creates no open shots and hence poor shooting percentage. SI’s 5-man out offense (which they used most of last night) doesn’t work with their personnel — you need 5 players who can dribble penetrate and kick — they only have one. I didn’t see one on-ball screen to free up a shooter. Bewildered that SI doesn’t see this. Credit to SH — well coached, played terrific defense and shot well. While I think the talent is similar, I agree that SH will win 9 out of 10 under current status quo, unless SI changes their offensive system to suit their personnel.

  9. Johnny Drama says:

    Take it easy folks! 9 out of 10 times, that’s a farce! We lost a game, it happens. While I do agree SHC probably has more talent at this stage, they are not overwhelming favorites over SI. In any event, we’ll face each other again down the road. Will be interesting!

  10. SI Cats says:

    “Irish Fan”- yeah, Johns & Fox really dominated the Bruce game. They had zero low post offense in that game partly due to Domingo’s three rejections in the first quarter.

    “SF Prep Fan”- SI’s offense “creates no open shots”?? What game were you watching- I saw plenty of open looks-they just did not fall last nite. Mrlick among the league leaders in scoring- I guess that’s a result of no open shots??

  11. Roll Cats says:

    If SI can get an offensive flow going early in the game, their offense becomes much less predictable. Teams typically double Mrlick early which allows guys like Silvia, Waters, and Domingo to score and score often. Most of SI’s key victories this season coincide with someone other than Mrlick carrying the load in the first half ( Silvia– Bruce game/Bellarmine game, Waters- Riordan game, Domingo- Mitty game). When this happens, teams have to ease up on their defensive pressure, guard all 5 guys, and Mrlick takes over. In a one on one situation, there is not one player in the league better than Johnny Mrlick. Last night, SH did a great job of scoring early which quieted the large crowd, but SI came back and eventually led which shows how much fight these players have. Not every night will be a good shooting night, but the players refused to let down even with the early deficit. Can’t wait for the 3rd battle when hopefully they roll out Aguilar a little more who loves to bang in the post and provides a tough inside presence 100% of the time.

  12. Ari Gold says:

    Stephen Domingo would be better suited to transfer to SH. SI’s offensive schemes dont take advantage of his height, athletic ability, and speed. Bad choice Domingo to go to SI. If you went to SH, you wouldve played the Jerry Brown role and avg 15 ppg instead of deferring to ball hog Mrlik who is put your head down and go LEFT all the time.

  13. Roll Cats says:

    @ Ari Gold: Last I checked, Mrlik leads the WCAL in PPG with just under 20 and perhaps more impressively leads the WCAL in free throws made (72) and free throw percentage with an unheard of 94%. I dont think its fair to say he’s a ball hog who puts his head down and goes LEFT all the time. Yes, he is left handed, but he goes right far more often than most right handed players go left and his drives have become increasingly unpredictable. The numbers speak for themselves and to say he’s a one dimensional player is appalling.

  14. Ari Gold says:

    @ Roll Cats… right, YOU called him one dimensional. I called him a ball hog. To avg 20 ppg in the WCAL speaks for itself. Or it speaks to the fact that the guy is a black hole and cant get any other teammates involved. But sure, I guess all teams need a go to player and Mrlik is the guy. I just didnt know he was a Kobe clone and chuck up 20+ shots a game. No other WCAL team has a selfish player like this.

  15. HSportsfan says:

    SI needs a versatile point guard to open up things for Domingo and Mrlick, because half the time they are forcing things. Waters is lighting fast and a good defender, but shys away from driving in and contact, and his jumper in non existent. Pappas likewise is a good defender and can hit the 3 ball once in a while, but is not starting caliber. They should bring up the freshman point guard Trevor Dunbar. This kid has one of the nastiest crossovers, and has great handles. He drives in and makes unbelievable passes, not to mention he is an above average shooter. This kid, given the chance, will open up things greatly for the shooters like Domingo, Mrlick, Johnson, etc. Also, big man Antonio Aguilar should be getting more minutes if not starting for Collins because he is more physical in the paint, stronger on the boards, and has more of an offensive game,not to mention he is a fan favorite.

  16. Cat Supporter says:

    @Ari Gold I think you’re being a little harsh and not very objective. I looked up WCAL stats and Mrlick averages 11.5 shots a game. He is in top 10 and leading his team FG and 3pt% and rebounds — he is on pace to set WCAL record for FT% — look at WCAL website. He also leads team in assists. I think your comment is unjustified based on numbers, but everyone is entitled to their opinion — this is what makes this website so great.

  17. Johnny Drama says:

    Come on @Ari Gold….don’t make me get Vince! Domingo went to SI for the academics. Jerry Brown? Are you kidding me? Talk about one dimensional, all he could do was dunk. Couldn’t shoot and couldn’t dribble. As a frosh at Fresno, he averaged 2.9 points and shot 50% from the free throw line. Only reason he played college ball is because he is 6’7 and can jump, but he is not skilled offensively, hence the 2.9 and 50% averages. I believe he is not even playing this year, maybe a redshirt. Any person who calls Mrlik one dimesnsional/ball hog and is pumping up Jerry Brown is delusional. Mrlik is having a much better senior season than JB had. Now, let’s hug it out!!!!

  18. Roll Cats says:

    @ Ari Gold: In calling Mrlik one dimensional, I summarized your opinion of saying he only goes left (hence one dimension)… In fact, I think Mrlik is one of the most versatile players in the league: he has the ability to bring the ball up the court, spot up and shoot, create his own shot, drive and dish, or drive and score.

    On another note, Albert Waters is an exceptional point guard who is only a sophomore. He has great court vision and manages the game like a quarterback would for a football team. He rarely makes mistakes, and his footwork sets him apart from other point guards in the league. Though he does not score often, he makes his presence felt as a defender and I would argue he does not back down against anyone nor does he shy away from contact. In fact, Albert took on Taylor Johns in last night’s game at one point and has the mentality that no one is bigger or stronger than he is. Good work and great progress this year Albert!

  19. SF Prep Fan says:

    Ari Gold I agree that Domingo would be better off at SH because coach Barbour would utilize his height, jumping ability and discipline him to shoot around the paint and follow his shot. He is a marvelous talent and if SI kept him around the post he would average 15 ppg this year. With his ability to elevate, only one or two players in the league can challenge his shot — the closer he is to the bucket the more he’ll score. His outside shooting will continue to develop but to win today, SI needs to keep him inside. I’m looking forward to watching his continued development.

  20. HSportsfan says:

    I agree that Albert has a great future in front of him, but he just is not the kind of offensive threat that could open things up. He is a good defender and if continues to develop will be a force in the WCAL in the future, but for now, the best offensive weapon SI could have is either put Mrlick at the point and go big with putting in Nick Johnson, or bringing Dunbar up. I saw Waters and Johns getting into it, it was great. Waters has a great mentality. Johns on the other hand…taunting one of the most dedicated and loud fans…not a good idea.

  21. City Lights says:

    The SI offense is laughable. Their flexy, screeny, slooow it down plays rarely work and the “offense” ends up being Mrlik and Domingo chuckin’ up threes as the shot clock runs down.

    Lippi was up-tempo, Reardon was Princeton, and Debenedetti is…??? always lookin’ to his assistants like “what do we DO?!”

  22. Ari Gold says:

    @Drama…. DRAMA!!!! You have been reduced to cartoon sitcoms!!! Anyone that follows SH basketball knows that you get most of your points from tough defense, fast break offense, points off the press and turnovers. Jerry Brown didnt make a living hitting mid range jumpshots. He got his points on put backs, dunks, alley-oops, and breakaways. Thats what ATHLETES do. I dont consider him an all-around basketball player. Just a pretty good athlete. I compare him to Luke Whitehead. Regardless what you say about Brown, he still was a main component on a STATE championship team. Although it was more Kevin Greene that played a bigger part of SH winning the state title that year.

    Mrlik, I have no doubt he’ll be first team WCAL, probably player of the year. Just not a fan of his. I dont know when this guy decided to be Ali Thomas and take every single shot.

  23. Johnny Drama says:

    @Ari….Terrence was right about you, you are a sneaky SOB. I don’t follow SHC basketball, only when they play SI and sometimes Riordan. 11.5 shots per game to average 20 points is highly efficient production…almost LeBron like…..OK, I embellish a bit, but those are very good numbers, especially in high school. I would venture to say that Jerry took many more shots to average his 15PPG. I attended the debacle at Santa Clara when Riordan and Camacho killed SHC in the CCS championship. Jerry must have flung up 20 shots for his 11 or so points. When he was the biggest kid on the court, he did what he did, when a bigger and more physical player was out there, he was neutralized. Riordan had Canon, who is 6’1, on him and Brown was frustrated. I knew then and there, this kid was over-rated. Mrlik can flat out score at this level and is a more all around player than Brown, just 5 inches shorter with no hops! A state championship in anything is to be commended, BUT, look at who they played that year to get there. SAC was down and so was the south. Usually the road to the “ship” is paved with D-1 studs, especially from the south. That was the first year in many that the south D-3 was poised for a loss. The stars aligned properly. It only took 4 years for that heralded recruiting class to win anything, as they lost the Bruce game for their first 3 years. Ever since that year, the WCAL has been on a precipitous drop in talent. The 2007 and 2008 SI, Riordan and SHC teams would bowl through this years league. Toboni, Bull, Legarza, Rob Jones, Camacho, Shofner, Canon, Greene, Brown, Cooper just to name a few. Not to mention the Mitty team that sent 5 kids to D-1. As good as our respective teams are today, they would not compete very well in the WCAL of 3 years ago.

    Now, on Domingo. I am an SI alum but I call it like I see it. He can play but he is a perimeter player. I’ve watched him play for years and he’s never played inside. He does not like contact and he is not strong enough to play down low. Go to youtube and watch his highlights, ALL JUMPERS from the elbow. How many layups has he missed this year under duress…..exactly! He is not and will not be a post player, he is a perimeter player that would greatly benefit from a post move or 2. He needs to beef up before he plays with the big boys down low. Next year this will be his team as opposed to if he attended SHC as next year it will still be Johns’ and Fox’s team.

    Let’s hug it out!!!!!

  24. IC Stars says:

    Why were the SI students yelling a soccer chant and holding a Mexican flag?

  25. Cat Supporter says:

    @Ari Gold Based on WCAL stats, the shots per game for SI’s top 3 scorers is as follows: Mrlick – 11.5 shots per game, Domingo – 10.8 shots per game and Silvia – 4.8 shots per game. Johnson, Collins, Aguilar, Silvia, Pappas, Waters and Quintana all take shots as well, but their stats aren’t listed on WCAL. When publically available information proves your statement to be indisputable false, ‘(Mrlick) take every single shot’, you are generally deemed by the public to be not credible.

  26. SI Cats says:

    Everbody relax. This was one game in a 14 game league schedule. May I remind all Irish fans that this SI team has defeated Mitty (only league loss was to SI), SHC, Serra, Bellarmine – in addition to Burlingame, Oakland Tech -some pretty fair teams. Mitty is currently ranked in Top 10 in state. SI also has not had the services of Nick Johnson past couple games due to injury.

    They are a solid team that should not be overlooked come playoff time.

  27. MFan says:

    Domingo & Gordon combination would be tremendous & so will be better served at Mitty.
    I recently viewed his winning major power move against Serra on youtube to appreciate him as a complete player. I think his game is rapidly evolving.

  28. Ari Gold says:

    @Drama… I love it… Who represents you? Josh Davies? and that secondary agency? Your distain for Brown is equal to my distain for Mrlik. Its natural for an SI alum to feel that way about Brown. As an SH alum, the feeling is mutual for Mrlik. I wont put Brown on a pedistal. Hes not THAT good. Like I said, hes just athletic. Im tempted to see if you have anything bad to say about Kevin Greene?

    I guess its good to see SI doing well this year. Theyve been a non-factor for so many years. Its about time. Sure you OWN the Bruce. Imma say it. You can have it. That means nothing to me. Im more proud of the CCS, NCS, State titles our mens/womens teams have accomplished. We have bigger goals. If you want to make the Bruce more respectible, they need to include the girls. Both schools have been co-ed for 20+ years now. So make it best of 5 (football, w-vball [1st match], m-bball, w-bball, and baseball).

  29. Johnny Drama says:

    @AriGold…sorry ARI, I’m rolling with Lloyd!! You had your shot at managing me and when Johnny Bananas takes off, you’ll be sorry!! Me and Lloyd will be breaking off from Miller-Gold.

    SI handed it to your million dollar babies for 3 of their 4 years, only winning anything of substance their senior years. Can you imagine if Parker, Hubbard and gang (literally), had not gotten kicked out………they coulda been a contendah!!

    I love KG and root for him at SC. Out of that whole class, he was the only one not involved in a scandal, LOL. He’s a nice young man. As I mentioned in an earlier post, womens’ sports is light entertainment and should not be factored into any type of athletic superiority trophy. Kinda like the WNBA.

    In any regard Ari, we have a mutual bond in Vince and therefore we will always be connected! It’s always a pleasure to engage in playfiul yet spirited and knowledgable banter with a friend/foe!

    I would ask you to hug it out but don’t want you drawing wood!

  30. ????? says:

    Hey jbalan. Waiting for you to post that this string has become too negative…. It seems you don’t like negative comments about the coaches (based on your complaints about the prior Bellarmine string) but don’t mind the negative comments about the kids. Interesting……

    • jbalan says:

      ?????,

      You’re right, was just away from the computer for a while. Plus, it appears there’s nothing I can say to discourage people from making personal attacks. Sad, but it seems to be a reality.

  31. Ari Gold says:

    @ Drama. Good show… until next time. Im going to check out the Aaron Gordon hype this weekend. Hopefully when his time comes this guy doesnt make a the wrong college choice like his brother.

  32. Roll Cats says:

    @ IC Stars: The fans chant “Ole Ole” and “GOOOOAL” while waving the Mexican flag for their fan favorite Antonio Aguilar. Tone is the most massive player on the court and the crowd feeds off of his low post play, tough defense, and passionate celebrations. Antonio does not play as much as most people would like, but when he gets in the crowd makes the most of it.

  33. Non Alum says:

    Debenedetti is the worst coach I’ve ever seen. I’ve watched most of the SI games this season, and many last season, and the man’s decisions are so poor that I seriously wonder if he’s trying to win or lose. As other people have commented, his offensive system is a joke — it’s not designed to create open shots, it’s designed to force desperation shots when the clock runs down. His substitutions are insane. As soon as the team gets on a roll, he starts substituting. His substitutions are entirely random. SI should never have hired him, but having done so, should have fired him long ago. The situation is an ongoing disgrace.

  34. Anonymous says:

    All this talk of Domingo being better off at SH? The kids soft who thinks he’s going d1. I’ve been watching and coaching around the league for 30 years and to hear that this kid believes that his future is in basketball is absurd. Don’t get me wrong, he’s got a great shot an all but for god’s sake he’s 6,6 and he isn’t dominating the paint such as Gordon is for mitty. He shies away from any contact whatsoever, plays 0 defense especially when he’s not scoring and does not bang in the post and when he tries, he gets pushed out to the three point line. I dont think any coach is going to help this boy what I believe needs to happen is he needs to get his head out of his rear pronto

  35. Bird says:

    Anonymous – I’ve seen Domingo a fair amount and see where work on things you mention is needed, but you’re overstating, and … is this personal? He executes in all of those areas, consistently for periods, with lapses. Gordon and Domingo are compared a lot … different players, each have solid foundation … re: d1 time will tell

  36. Anonymous says:

    This team (SI) has all the potential to be one of the top ranked teams if the had better coaching this coach is a joke. He needs to use his big men and learn when subsitition is necessary. There are players on the bench that should be getting playing time. The solution to SI’s problems right now is to get rid of the head coach.

  37. Vinyard says:

    Anonymous 1, Where do you coach? Don’t want my kids near you

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