Boys Basketball: Sacred Heart D late gives Irish third consecutive CCS title

Sacred Heart Cathedral junior forward Joshua Fox skies for a layup in the lane against Burlingame on Saturday at Santa Clara University. (Photo by Doug Ko)

By Jeremy Balan

SANTA CLARA — After Burlingame retook the lead with just over seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, it appeared the Panthers were primed to break Sacred Heart Cathedral’s stranglehold on the CIF-Central Coast Section Division III championship.

Instead, the Irish played near-perfect defense down the stretch, holding Burlingame scoreless for the rest of the game and ended on a 10-0 run to clinch their third consecutive CCS title with a 41-32 win on Saturday at Santa Clara University.

Sacred Heart Cathedral junior forward Taylor Johns rises up for one of his game-high four blocks against Burlingame on Saturday at Santa Clara University. (Photo by Doug Ko)

“We played a little tight on the offensive end early, but I thought our defense was good. In the second half our defense was great,” said Sacred Heart head coach Darrell Barbour. “I’m always talking to our guys about defending, because I don’t care where you play or at what level you play at, if you defend and rebound you’ll be in every game and have a chance at winning.”

The run was punctuated emphatically by two huge blocks by junior forward Taylor Johns, which fed directly into the Irish (23-6) offense.

“We knew the offense would come, so we just kept playing hard and kept up with our defense,” Johns said. “[The blocks] fire up [the team] a lot. A block is like a dunk to us.”

Johns would finish with nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds, to go along with four blocks, but when the Irish needed key points, they turned to fellow junior forward Joshua Fox, who was tied sophomore with Herman Pratt for the team-high with 10 points, which included a two-handed dunk in the first quarter.

Still, it was the Sacred Heart defense that held the Panthers to just 11 points in the second half and four in the fourth quarter, after Burlingame (26-4) led 21-18 at the half.

The Irish also significantly altered the impact of Burlingame’s standout forward Rodrigo Puliceno, who came into the game averaging over 12 points and 12 rebounds per game.

Sacred Heart denied Puliceno the ball throughout and held him to five points on 2-of-9 shooting from the floor.

“We wanted to limit his touches, because I felt that if he touched the ball a lot, he’ll score and we’ll get in foul trouble,” Barbour said.

With its leading scorer locked down, Burlingame appeared to panic late, taking often off-balanced or contested shots from three-point range in an attempt to get back in the game. Three-point shooting was an issue throughout for the Panthers, who connected on just 4-of-23 attempts from beyond the arc.

“You gotta put the ball in the basket every now and then,” said Burlingame head coach Jeff Dowd. “We hustled and played our asses off, but we just couldn’t make any shots. Shot selection was a part of it, because we were frustrated we weren’t getting it inside, so we started jacking up threes.”

Sacred Heart and Burlingame both move on to the CIF state championship tournament next week, but Barbour and the Irish aren’t getting too far ahead of themselves.

“You never know this time of year, because it’s one-and-done,” Barbour said. “We’re going to lace ‘em up on Tuesday, play our heart out and hope we can play again.”

Scoring Leaders

Sacred Heart Cathedral
Joshua Fox – 10
Herman Pratt – 10
Taylor Johns – 9
Zachary Tapel – 6
Yanoj Jackson – 4

Burlingame
Zach Grotz – 13
Dean Ferrari – 6
Rodrigo Puliceno – 5
Kyle Shaffer – 4
Two players tied with 2 points

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24 Comments

  1. Ari Gold says:

    3-peat baby!!! suck on that SI!!!

  2. scott says:

    Excellent job by the Irish, Great game, good coaching too

  3. Irish says:

    The problem with the Irish is they just can’t beat SI when it counts, regarding the Bruce Mahoney, but I will take the Girls win as the most important one this year…!!!!

  4. congrats to my almamater…and id take a title over the Bruce game EVERYDAY

  5. jordan24 says:

    Congrats Irish! Way to represent the City! Good luck in Norcals!

  6. wounded Cat says:

    I love how all the Irish supporters talk about how little the Bruce matters until you win it once every ten years or so. Anyway, congrats on beating BHS. They are good as we know all too well. Oh, and don’t get all giddy over CCS. CCS is a joke. SHC only had to play one tough game and it was in the championship. Winning the WCAL or Norcal is something to be proud of. CCS is a watered down, glorified money-making machine mostly filled with terrible public schools.

    That doesn’t take away anything from what you guys did, I’m just saying go out and win Norcal and THEN you can start talking about a true “championship.” Good luck to the Irish.

  7. Biggie Big... says:

    Many people for Burlingame were running their mouths after they beat SI and said the WCAL was going down. Well like I said-No way, SHC has too much again for the 3rd year in a row. I thought Burlingame played well vs SI but I knew that SH was too athletic and strong for them…good luck to the irish in Nor cals…Congrats on a good year to Burlingame boys…be proud…

  8. SI Cats says:

    Calm down Ari…take a deep breath…when all is said and done, your team will lose in CIF.

  9. Pablo says:

    Way to go Iish, congrats to the entire team and coaching staff. I am delighted for Seniors Folan and Murphy. Murhp has served his school so well over the past 4 years in 3 sports and finnally he will receive a well deserved CCS Ring. Once again this is fantastic for City basketball and it proves that the WCAL rocks! When we were down at Santa Clara last year we were shouting support for the SI girls, and it was nice to see some of the SI parents supporting SH boy’s yesterday, the Bruce-Mahoney game is one thing, however when our City teams move on to CCS state etc everyone should get behind them, if you are a “true” City person then you should know most of these kids. I do have to take one shot, are SHCP now the undisputed City Champs! or do we have to depend on the powers that be who still have “University” as number one, what a joke. Good luck to the Irish in State, next year could be huge!

  10. JJ says:

    Why does Ari Gold hate SI so much? Did his parents apply there, and he didn’t get in?

  11. JJ says:

    @SI Cats

    I’m a SI alum, but SHC will be very tough in the CIF playoffs. They could surprise some teams with their defensive intensity and speed. They also have a couple kids who can hit the 3, so they will always have a chance to win if they are playing from behind.

  12. JJ says:

    @ Ari Gold
    You probably got cut from the SI basketball team, cause your parents didn’t donate enough money.

  13. Johnny Drama says:

    Thus causing him to transferr to a less competitive school…….now it makes sense. I see why the hostility.

  14. Fan says:

    Some guys (and gals) can never leave high school!

  15. Rick H says:

    @Ari Gold. First of all, cut it with the lame Entourage avatar. Second of all, SHC NEVER WINS WIN IT COUNTS. when it comes to the Bruce Mahoney. The trophy lives in the Sunset as it has for the past 11 out of 12 years. SI has won the Bruce 45 times. Sacred Heart has won the Trophy 19 times. History shows that SHC is hardly a threat or much of a rivalry in this aspect.

  16. Rick H says:

    @Pablo. Totally agree. It’s a “San Francisco” thing. SI fans should pull for SHC teams and visa versa come playoffs if they aren’t playing against each other. Our families and our City are so intertwined with both schools since the mid 1800s that carries on into the WCAL.

  17. Marie says:

    To wounded Cat, All this talk about the CCS is watered down and glorified and SHC didn’t win WCAL blah, blah etc. Well SI obviously didn’t beat Burlingame nor were they the WCAL champs for 2011!!!

  18. ajd says:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but isn’t the big game the CCS Division III Championship game? The Bruce Mahoney, while an important tradition between the two schools, is not the main event that these teams are striving for. Congratulations to Sacred Heart Cathedral from this SI fan.

  19. The Wildcats says:

    @ajd The Bruce talk always comes up no matter what between SI & SHC. The SHC fans love to talk down the importance of the tradition because even though they get big crowds at Bruce games, when they lose (which is a lot as history proves) they say they didn’t want to win anyway. Kind of like asking the prettiest girl out, a girl who is out of your league, and getting shot down. Then saying she’s ugly anyway. It’s a coping mechanism.

  20. SF Prep Fan says:

    Don’t understand why some SH fans were/are critical of coach Barbour — I hope they appreicate him now because I believe he gets the most out of his kids and knows how to use them. Win against Burlingame was no exception — tenatious and timely defense won the day. Great accomplishment over the past 2 years as SH doesn’t have the level of talent they did 3 to 5 years ago. Love their resiliency after recovering with a vengeance from their Serra thrashing in WCAL tournament. Best of luck to SH in CCS. No doubt SH is best team in the city –they have been since they beat SI and have distanced themselves since. CCS carries alot more weight in my book than the Bruce Mahoney game.

  21. The Wildcats says:

    @SF Prep Fan Agreed with the much improved SH team over the past month and the way they bounced back after the big home loss to Serra. And also agreed that Barbour did a very good job of coaching this year especially with defense. Defense does win championships.

    You can have your opinion about the CCS carrying more weight in your book than taking the Bruce from SI. Probably because SH rarely wins the Bruce because it is a one sided rivalry in football, basketball, and baseball when it comes to Bruce games. Tell me, when was the last time you saw 5,000 fans at a CCS basketball game for the SH boys? Never. That’s why 5,000 fans at USF for a Bruce basketball game pretty much voted that winning the Bruce is very important no matter who wins the CCS or the WCAL.

    The CCS doesn’t carry as much weight as a WCAL Championship. Look how the public schools overall perform in the CCS vs WCAL schools.

    Remember back in the day when the three City teams would dominate the WCAL in hoops: SI, Riordan, and SH. Time to turn the momentum back to The City.

  22. chris says:

    Well, Burlingame sure took care of you guys didn’t they, they are not WCAL.

  23. @ed says:

    @Chris well SHC is in the WCAL, and Burlingame lost to SHC
    At the CCS championship Duh!

  24. IC Stars says:

    The Wildcats, the Bruce-Mahoney competition should be considered as playoffs for a championship in and of itself. The atmosphere at the games certainly demonstrates as much.

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