By Bonta Hill
Sacred Heart Cathedral had a chance to cap off an impressive week with a win that would have catapulted them into a first-place tie in the West Athletic Catholic League.
But Archbishop Mitty had other ideas, and squelched Sacred Heart’s ideas on capturing the WCAL regular season championship on Saturday.
The visiting Monarchs dominated the Irish in a 56-40 win, and clinched at least a tie for the regular season title in the process.
Mitty’s standout sophomore Aaron Gordon made his presence felt early and often, as he controlled the key with 12 points, 13 rebounds, and five blocks before sitting out the fourth quarter when the Monarchs (20-2, 11-1) were up by as many as 26 points.
“You always have to have a post presence and just try to dominate the key, especially early in the game,” Gordon said. “I tried to take them out their game and just [tried] to do my thing.”
With both teams having played games the previous night, the game got off to a slow start, but the Irish seemed to be more impacted by the short turnaround.
Sacred Heart (16-5, 7-3) shot a paltry 21 percent in the first quarter and found themselves down 14-6 after the first frame. The Irish finished the game shooting for 34 percent from the floor.
“You saw two tired teams with a three-game week, but our guys were able to make plays and make shots,” said Mitty head coach Tim Kennedy. “Sacred Heart struggled making shots and we were able to push the lead.”
The Irish would get a spark from their bench though, and went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 16-13 midway through the second quarter.
But Mitty showed why they are considered the WCAL’s elite, and the Monarchs would score the next six points to go up 22-13.
In the eyes of Sacred Heart head coach Darrell Barbour, one sequence changed the entire game, and visibly took a toll on the Irish for the rest of the night.
Sacred Heart’s Taylor Johns had three shots blocked by Gordon – all on the same possession – and Mitty was in complete control from that point.
“When Gordon made those plays, our guy’s body language changed,” Barbour said. “It changed the whole complex of the game.”
Mitty guard Kyle Toth hit a three at the halftime buzzer, and the Monarchs scored six straight points to open the second half as they shot out to a 15-point lead, shutting down any hopes for an Irish victory.
“I believe it was all mental. I looked at my team in the first half, at the lack of energy and how lethargic they were,” Barbour said. “I believe my team doesn’t believe they can beat Mitty, and I asked them that at halftime. They said they did believe they can beat them, but actions speak louder than words.”
The Irish might have a chance to redeem themselves in the WCAL playoffs, but they’ll probably need to get by Serra and their arch-rival St. Ignatius, which won’t be easy.
Even though Mitty has one of the top teams in the state, Barbour was utterly disappointed with his team’s efforts in a game with league-championship implications.
“We didn’t play with much emotion, nor did we compete. That to me, is the most discouraging part,” Barbour said. “Give Mitty all the credit, but our lack of competitiveness is something that really bothered me.”
Aaron Gordon – 12
Kyle Toth – 11
Connor Gorman – 10
Three players tied with 6 points
Sacred Heart Cathedral
Taylor Johns – 9
Joshua Fox – 9
Carlos Santos – 6
Khalil James – 5
Yanoj Jackson – 5