By Bonta Hill
In the first two rounds of the Leo LaRocca Sand Dune Classic, the St. Ignatius boys basketball team rode second-quarter runs to dispose of its opposition.
Once again, the second quarter proved to be the difference in the tournament championship game, but the Wildcats were the team facing a double-digit deficit at halftime.
St. Ignatius committed 15 turnovers and gave up 12 offensive rebounds that led to several second-chance points for Jesuit, and the Wildcats were routed 68-49 at home on Thursday.
The Marauders (11-2), who endured a rough visit to the City a week ago in a loss to Sacred Heart Cathedral, blew the game open in the second quarter, outscoring St. Ignatius 20-8 in the frame en route to a 35-18 halftime lead.
Jesuit got huge games from Bryce Pressley and Parker Uu, with Pressley finishing with 24 points and 12 rebounds, while Uu, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, added 19 points and five rebounds.
After coasting through their first two games of the tournament, the Wildcats (6-4) were completely thrown off by Jesuit’s half-court defense.
“Our guys came ready to play and our defense tonight, which is our bread and butter, was suffocating,” said Jesuit head coach Greg Harcos. “The effort was excellent tonight. We played together and when we play defense like that, we can play with anybody.”
Jesuit opened the second quarter on a 12-3 run and later in the quarter, they used a 9-0 run to go up 31-13.
“It was hard for us to run at all, because we were getting out-rebounded,” said St. Ignatius head coach Tim Reardon. “They either made a basket or they got a second shot. If we rebound like this against a team like Serra or Sacred Heart, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble.”
After the break, St. Ignatius had more fluidity on offense and shot 8-for-12 from the field in the third quarter.
The Wildcats cut the Jesuit lead to 43-32 with 3:56 left in the period, but after a Marauders’ timeout, Jesuit point guard Akachi Okugo sank a 3-pointer, halting the St. Ignatius momentum. St. Ignatius did not get within 12 points the rest of the game.
“At halftime, I told our team to spread it out, make four or five passes, and make them run around a little bit and try to get some easy baskets.” Reardon said. “In the fourth quarter, I told our team to go for it. We were either going to go for it and see if we can win, or get blown out, and the latter happened.”
With West Catholic Athletic League play set to start next week, the Wildcats were looking to enter with a head of steam behind a tournament championship. Instead, they’ll try to sure up their rebounding and get back to the basics.
“It’s back to the drawing board for us,” Reardon said. “[Jesuit] is a WCAL-caliber type of team and now we know what we need to work on.”
Bryce Pressley — 24
Parker Uu — 19
Akachi Okugo — 12
Brian Glodowski — 7
Joey Thomas — 3
Stephen Domingo — 15
Nick Johnson — 12
Trevor Dunbar — 7
Noah Bull — 4
Two players tied with 3 points