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.
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.”
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