By Bonta Hill
What happened to Archbishop Riordan on Tuesday night was just another dagger in what has already been a long season for the Crusaders.
Going into the halftime break down 33-28, visiting Riordan seemed to have plenty of momentum to pull off an upset over second-seeded Sacred Heart Cathedral in the first round of the West Catholic Athletic League playoffs.
But the Irish took that momentum away in a hurry, and buried Riordan with a huge third quarter surge, outscoring the Crusaders 29-9 in the frame before cruising to the second round with a 74-50 victory.
Sacred Heart junior forward Joshua Fox went a perfect 10-for-10 from the field, en route to a game-high 23 points with eight rebounds, helping the Irish beat Riordan for the third time this season.
“It felt good tonight,” Fox said. “My teammates put me in good spots, and when I was feeling it, they kept feeding me [the ball].”
With fellow forward Taylor Johns in foul trouble early, Riordan began to claw back from an early 19-12 deficit, as their half-court defense forced Sacred Heart into 11 first-half turnovers.
But Fox’s eight points in the second quarter kept the Irish up going into the half. Still, Sacred Heart head coach Darrell Barbour was frustrated with the Irish’s play the second quarter.
“The turnovers in the second quarter really hurt us because we weren’t getting shots, and when we got shots we were scoring,” Barbour said. “The turnovers stopped our momentum and Riordan made shots.”
Things would sway back toward the Irish quickly after the break in the decisive third quarter.
After Riordan’s Anthony Castillo sank a three-pointer to cut the lead to 35-31, Sacred Heart reeled off 16 unanswered points and their five-point halftime lead ballooned to 19 in the third quarter’s first four minutes.
Riordan shot only 13 percent from the floor in the frame to go along with six turnovers and the Crusaders would never get back in it, falling behind by as many as 27 points. They finished the game shooting 34 percent from the floor with 16 turnovers.
“We just got flustered. We gave up an open three to [Martin] Folan, and it just snowballed after that,” said Riordan head coach Rich Buckner.
While the Crusaders struggled, the Irish shot 80 percent in the game-changing third quarter to blow the game open. Sacred Heart finished the game shooting an efficient 60 percent.
Barbour was happy, but noted his team had room for improvement moving forward.
“The thing I’m concerned about is the turnovers, but I like my team,” Barbour said. “They come to practice every day wanting to get better, so hopefully we keep getting better.”
Riordan will take a few days off and get ready for the upcoming CIF-Central Coast Section playoffs next week, while the Irish will host Serra in the WCAL semifinals on Friday at 7 p.m.
Sacred Heart Cathedral
Joshua Fox – 23
Herman Pratt – 13
Taylor Johns – 10
Martin Folan – 9
Zachary Tapel – 7
Aaron Anderson – 14
Anthony Castillo – 12
D.J. Harvey – 12
Graham Gilleran – 4
Four players tied with 2 points