Boys Basketball: Sacred Heart crushed by Serra in WCAL semifinal

Sacred Heart Cathedral junior forward Taylor Johns is stopped short of the basket by a pair of Serra defenders on Friday at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

Sacred Heart Cathedral collected the opening tipoff and would score the first points of the game just 30 seconds later in the West Catholic Athletic League semifinals against Serra, but after that moment, nothing went right for the Irish.

Second-seeded Sacred Heart would go on to score a season-low in points, and never challenged the Padres in a 73-29 blowout loss in front of a stunned Irish crowd on Friday at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep.

Sacred Heart Cathedral junior forward Joshua Fox goes up for a contested layup against Serra on Friday at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep. (Photo by Devin Chen)

No Sacred Heart players scored in double-figures (junior forward Joshua Fox led the Irish with seven points), while Serra (19-7) had four players in that category, and when the margin grew to 41-points, the final 1:47 went into running time. The 44-point margin is the largest ever in a WCAL semifinal.

“The embarrassing part for me was not that we lost, it’s not even that we lost by that many points. It was our lack of competitiveness,” said Sacred Heart head coach Darrell Barbour. “For me, that’s the really disappointing part. I’ve had my ass kicked before, and I’ll probably get my butt kicked again, but it’s hard to accept my team, regardless of how good or bad we are, not going out and competing.”

The Irish (20-6) shot 25 percent from the floor in the first half and 23 percent in the game, but it was 15 first-half turnovers that constantly set the Sacred Heart offense back early, allowing the Padres to open up a 26-12 lead at the half.

But it only got worse for Sacred Heart in the second half, as Serra dominated every facet of the game, outscoring the Irish 25-8 in the third quarter and 22-9 in the fourth.

“We got our butts kicked because we deserved to get our butts kicked,” Barbour said. “They enforced their will on us and we didn’t resist at all.”

What made the lopsided final score even more peculiar was how even the regular season meetings between the two teams were. Sacred Heart won both regular season matchups, 57-54 and 43-42.

“The motivation really was on our side. They beat us twice and we wanted to avenge that,” said Serra head coach Chuck Rapp. “It was one of those days where everything was going right for us. We shot the ball really well and the ball was rolling really funny for Sacred Heart, looks they usually make. Tonight was just our night.”

The Serra offense was explosive, led by junior guard Jason Barsocchini’s game-high 18 points, but it was the Padres’ defensive effort, denying standout Sacred Heart forwards Fox and Taylor Joshns the ball, that took the Irish out of the game early.

“The big guys really gave us problems in the first two matchups,” Rapp said. “Fox and Johns have been beating us up inside, so we really worked to concentrate on not letting them get the ball.”

With the win, Serra advances to the WCAL title game against regular-season champion Mitty, while Sacred Heart must wait till Sunday to find out their next matchup, when the CIF-Central Coast Section brackets are released.

The Irish figure to be a force in the Division III CCS bracket, but optimism was not the prevailing feeling coming from Barbour after the game.

“I’m not into silver linings and I’m not into moral victories,” Barbour said. “The only silver lining is that the game is over. We got our tails kicked and our guys need to come back and practice their butts off and get better.”

Scoring Summary

Jason Barsocchini – 18
Henry Caruso – 16
Connor McGrath – 12
Dalyn Pacheco – 10
Vika Jimenez – 6

Sacred Heart Cathedral
Joshua Fox – 7
Khalil James – 5
Herman Pratt – 4
Sean Murphy – 3
Tyler Petroni – 3

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  1. Dick Allen says:

    Nice story. Just one question … why the use of the word “would” in each of the first two paragraphs? Seems klnd of ESPN’ish, and not in a good way. Liked the rest of the story, though.

  2. City Lights says:

    Oh… my… gawd… that is an all-time monster beatdown. Daaaaaaaamn.

  3. carbon nanotube says:

    Even worse than the collapse of the Cleveland Caviliers

  4. Johnny Drama says:

    Surprised? Maybe…Shocked? Absolutely not! This game vindicates several of my comments and opinions made on this board. The first two games were toss ups and Rapp, who in my opinion is the better coach, made the proper adjustments. Barbour made none and expected his players to win it. As I’ve been saying, there is no dominant team, other than Mitty ( who were beaten by the CATS) in the WCAL this year. SH was the tallest midget in a league full of midgets. For a team, who had the clock running on them in a WCAL semi final, to be the favorite going into a CCS tournament speaks volumes! It speaks for the low level of play we are seeing on this side of the bay. This was the worst beat down in the history of WCAL semi final play. That’s one record @AriGold’s beloved Irish has over the CATS! SHC’s guards are very average, John’s was better last year as a newcomer. Teams now prepare for him more so than last year and the same is starting to happen to Fox. If a team plans for them and makes the SH guards beat you, this is what would typically happen. The reason it doesn’t happen is more often is because the low level of talent that currently exists in WCAL play.

    I value the accomplishments of the CATS from the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s a helluva lot more than anything they’ve done recently on the hardwood. There was a thread on another subject regarding the 2002 season the Irish had. That was an impressive season as the league was a powerhouse back then. This team that got blasted is the defending CCS D3 champs……I wouldn’t get too excited over championships in this era. As last night proved, SHC is the best of the worst heading into CCS. We will see if they earn a number 1 seed, which was a foregone conclusion if they would have competed. I will leave all the SHC fans that have made some disparaging comments towards my CATS (and towards Riordan as well), with two words……….RUNNING CLOCK! They had to bring out the CYO rule book for the Irish!

  5. IC Stars says:

    I didn’t think that I’d REALLY see stars. Go Monarchs!

  6. SI Cats says:

    About a couple of years ago, at the conclusion of the Bruce-Mahoney game at USF, SHC had a huge lead over SI with about a couple minutes to play. Barbour took out his entire starting five and then with less than a minute left, put his starting five back in the game…why coach?? Because you’re a real class act I guess. I loved that Serra kicked SHC’s butt. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Just wished that Coach Rapp would have played his entire starting five the entire game and pressed full-court until the final horn.

  7. Biggie Big... says:

    It was a true ass kick’en, and the better coach was better prepared and had his team ready to go. As I watched the warm ups, I see Serra going hard and getting a good sweat on, then I look at SHC and I see laughing and smiles like they did something already like win a championship. This team is very childish with No leadership. The guard play for SHC was horrible, serra made Fox and Johns work really hard and no one else stepped up for the irish. All teams have bad games but SHC never imposed their will on Serra and nor did they compete at any part of the game. And to lose the game by 42 at SHC is a true embarrassment to the school and the city of sf. Lets see if SHC can bounce back with some pride and win D3…Get some toughness kids and that doesn’t happen again…wow that was a bad beating by Serra…

  8. SF Prep Fan says:

    @ Johnny Drama I believe basketball is thriving on this side of the bay. WCAL teams had plenty of success this year against the other side of the bay teams. MItty dominated O’dowd, SI dominated Oakland Tech, SH beat Redwood, etc.. I was at the game last night and Serra dominated them. Coach Rapp is probably the best coach in the league and had his kids ready and they played the best game of the year. SH did not play well and the kids didn’t seem to have the energy. I’ve seen the Celtics beat the Lakers by 35 and then the Lakers go on to win the next game and the series. It was one of those nights. I think Barbour is a very good coach, however last night was not one of his best efforts.

    To put down the entire WCAL because of a single game thrashing is a bit harsh. I think there is alot of parity in the WCAL this year with Mitty the having the talent advantage — coaching has been the differentiator for the rest. Serra & Mitty are extremely well coached, SI and Valley Christian are poorly coached and I think Riordan, SH, St. Francis and Bellarmine are well coached. SI has the talent to beat Mitty when healthy and should have beat them again at Mitty. Again, coaching plays a bit part and last night Coach Rapp had his team firing on all cylinders. SH still leads 2 games to 1.

  9. Irishpride says:

    They got beat plain and simple. And if a coach can’t motivate his players or get them to focus then he or she isn’t doing their job. I miss the days of Phillips, Drucker and Isola.

    Their guard play is at this moment, their weak link and according to the article, that got exposed last night. So now that other teams made know to clamp down on Fox and Johns, are Tapel, Forlan and Jones going to be able to step up along with their bench? Will Barbour and his staff be able to come up with a winning game plan to make a decent run at CCS and possibly state? Let’s hope so…….

    And yes how embarrassing to have a running clock on your home floor in a playoff game.

  10. Johnny Drama says:

    @SFPrepFan: I mentioned in my post that Mitty was a dominant team that can play with anyone. As much as I love to brag about my CATS beating them, quite honestly, it was an aberration and I disagree that we should have beat them at their place. BBALL is down in WCAL and especially in SF, that was the point I was making. I believe it is a direct result of the demographic change in the city. Folks are leaving SF in droves due to the cost of living and the result is watered down hoops in SF and very good ball in East Bay.

    SFPREPS does a fine job of ranking the teams and their Top 10 for SF is right on in my opinion. The number 1 team on the list just got blasted by 40 points in a home playoff game. They were running the freakin clock for Christ’s sake. Spin it any way you want but that doesn’t happen at this level to a very good team. It happens to average teams and while SHC MAY BE the best team in SF, they are an average team in the big scheme of things. Do you think any of the city teams could compete with O’Dowd, Castro Valley, Salesian, Sheldon etc. The answer is no. All the teams I mentioned have players with city ties but as I mentioned above, they are now in East Bay, central valley. Can’t blame the kids or the schools, the talent isn’t what it once was and probably never will be. The kids I’ve seen all play hard and leave it all on the court, but that’s not always enough if the talent levels aren’t there.

  11. ARHS says:

    Ron “roll the ball out and let em run” Isola! That was talent not coaching!

  12. Rondo says:

    Its one game for christs sake! You guys act like they havent beat serra before.

  13. Tracy McCray says:

    @ARHS: SH has “talent” and got blasted by over forty points, can’t say I remember off hand Isola’s teams getting blasted like that in a playoff game, or Drucker’s or Phillips. Correct me if I am wrong fellas or ladies…..

  14. jordan24 says:

    not sure why the isola bashing…yes he had great talent, but he also went up against some great coaches/teams during his tenure and never ran up the score…Drucker, Philips, Roehl (SF). The league had far superior talent back in the day. Isola also never ducked competition…He scheduled such teams as Bishop O’Dowd (Phelps), DLS, Skyline (Gary Payton-Greg Foster), Balboa (richard morton) and Lincoln (harold keeling) when they were powerhouses, Fremont-oakland, Crenshaw (Willie West), Mater Dei (McKnight-llost by 2 pts in state), Drake (included 82 State Undefeated team). He’s done nothing short of devoting his life to riordan athletics…he’s often seen setting up chairs on the floor for big games, to tending the crusader grill, dusting the floor to taking tickets…and is well-respected by his peers which means more than posters like us on this comment board.

  15. SF Prep Fan says:

    After last night, SH leads Serra 2 to 1 this year.

    @Johnny Drama Both SI and SH could compete against all the teams you mentioned on a talent level — Mitty’s coach even says that SI is the team that concerned him the most. SI’s issue is they are so poorly coached. They play the wrong players, have a poor system and players don’t respect their coach — watch a huddle, no one listens. Against a big O’Down team, coach went small and got creamed, while leaving his big guys on the bench all game, etc.. He has not learned to play his strengths after 3 years — me may have the worst record in SI history, not surprising considering he never played varsity high school basketball. In WCAL tournament, down 1 with 25 seconds to go against Bellarmine, he ran a play through a kid who struggled all game (turnover) — you give the ball to your best player in money time and let the chips fall – basic coaching 101 — SI will not achieve much until they get a competent coach. Coaching is a such a big part of high school basketball. I watched almost all of SH home games and Barbour is a very good coach — I believe his team overachieved this year, except for the final game. I do not believe they have the talent that many seem to think. University is the best coached team in the City. Only Springwater and maybe one other player on their roster would make SI or SH, but I think University could compete soundly against both SI and SH and even beat them at times. I expect University to go the furthest in NCS and CCS of the City teams.

  16. Irishpride says:

    @ jordan24. Thank you for that post! Yes Mr. Isola played some of the best competition in the bay area as well as Mr. Drucker & Mr. Phillips teams and I do believe Johnny Drama has point about the level of competition in the city not being the same as in the past for both public and private school.

  17. jordan024 says:

    @irishpride: agree. level of talent/competition is not even close as it was back in the day. most of my fellow alumni and friends from sh and si (when both were men only) live in the east bay or peninsula sending their kids to dls, o’dowd, st. marys or serra, st. francis and mitty.

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