By Bonta Hill
The St. Ignatius boys basketball team went into the halftime break against visiting Mitty down by just a point after a jumper at the buzzer by junior forward Stephen Domingo.
It seemed that the shot could spark the Wildcats and possibly lead to an upset of the defending Division II state champions, but St. Ignatius missed its first five shots in the third quarter to kick-start a 11-0 Mitty run, before eventually falling 51-39 to the Monarchs in West Catholic Athletic League play.
After hanging with the Monarchs in the first half, the Wildcats (7-5, 1-1) shot only 25 percent from the floor in the final sixteen minutes.
Domingo shot 2-for-12 from the floor, finished with five points and was held scoreless in the second half.
“We shot poorly, and if Stephen makes [only two shots], it’s going to be hard for us to win,” said St. Ignatius head coach Tim Reardon. “We just don’t have many other weapons.”
St. Ignatius couldn’t take advantage of below-average performance from standout Mitty forward Aaron Gordon, who didn’t start the game due to a battle with mononucleosis and was visibly hampered by the illness coming off the bench.
Gordon, who Mitty head coach Tim Kennedy didn’t think would play, finished with only six points while playing in spurts.
But forward Neil Vranicar and guard Jordan White would pick up the slack for the Monarchs (10-1, 2-0).
Vranicar finished with 11 points while chasing around Domingo on defense and White added 10 points, including a crushing 3-pointer with just over two minutes left that put the Monarchs up 49-38.
“Offensively, our seniors really stepped up after coming out a little tight,” Kennedy said. “Vranicar and White really hit some big shots for us tonight and relieved some pressure off the big fella.”
A bright spot for the Wildcats was the play of sophomore point guard Trevor Dunbar.
Dunbar, who scored a team-high 14 points, sank back-to-back jumpers in the fourth quarter that cut the Mitty lead to 36-32.
But after St. Ignatius missed two free throws and a chance to cut the Monarchs’ lead to two points, Mitty’s Conner Peterson got fouled while attempting a 3-pointer – the second time the Wildcats fouled him on the perimeter – and Peterson sank all three, extending the lead to 39-32.
St. Ignatius would get no closer the rest of the game and shot just 27 percent from the floor in the fourth quarter.
With the Bruce-Mahoney game coming next week against rival Sacred Heart Cathedral, Reardon wasn’t looking ahead to Tuesday. Instead, he focused on what his team can do to get better.
“We’re not where we need to be. We’re not ready to be a good team yet,” Reardon said. “Hopefully, in two practices, we can put together a game plan and be able to execute it. Hopefully we’ll be able to shoot a little bit better.”
Conner Peterson – 13
Neil Vranicar – 11
Jordan White – 10
Aaron Gordon – 6
Trevor Dunbar – 14
Nick Johnson – 7
Stephen Domingo – 5
Antonio Aguliar – 4
Noah Bull – 4