By Jeremy Balan
The Bruce-Mahoney basketball game was ugly for three quarters, but at its most important stage, Sacred Heart Cathedral shot the lights out.
And in the process, they made a baseball game in late March significantly less important.
After shooting just 29 percent from the floor through three quarters, the Irish connected on 7-of-11 shots in the fourth quarter of a 45-37 win over rival St. Ignatius on Tuesday at USF’s War Memorial Gymnasium to clinch the Bruce-Mahoney Trophy for the first time since the 2008-09 school year.
“No words to describe it. I’m just happy, because this is my last year and I wanted to leave with a bang,” said Sacred Heart senior forward Joshua Fox. “We wanted it and we took it.”
Fox connected with his final three shots of the game and led the Irish (11-1, 2-1) with a game-high 13 points and certainly left with a bang. With the Irish clinging to a 34-31 lead, Fox followed a miss from fellow senior forward Taylor Johns with a put-back dunk to seize momentum and force an immediate St. Ignatius timeout with 2:35 remaining in the game.
“I call that kid a basketball player,” said Sacred Heart head coach Darrell Barbour. “I don’t care where you put him out there, he’s a basketball player. Taylor struggled, but between those two, at least one is going to show up for us, and when they both show up we’re really good. It was his time tonight.”
But it was neither Fox nor Johns that put the game away, as junior guard Khalil James connected on a 3-pointer with 56 seconds remaining to give the Irish a 41-35 lead, then hit four free throws in the final 36 seconds to seal the victory.
“People will find out that we’re not a two-man team,” Barbour said. “A lot of kids on this team are good players. They can make shots, they can make good decisions. That’s the beauty of our team.”
Through three quarters, however, the game looked to be played at St. Ignatius’ tempo, and the Wildcats led 26-25 heading into the final frame.
“I thought we had them, but it’s just hard to win with 37 points,” said St. Ignatius head coach Tim Reardon.
While the rest of the Wildcats shot 0-for-6 from the floor in the fourth, St. Ignatius sophomore point guard Trevor Dunbar took hold of the spotlight and scored eight points in the final quarter on a mix of pull-up jumpers and seemingly-effortless drives through the Sacred Heart defense.
Dunbar had all of his team-high 10 points in the second half after a 0-for-8 shooting performance in the first half.
Photo slideshow by Doug Ko and Eric Luis
“He had a rough game up to that point and a lot of sophomores would crumble there, but he didn’t,” Reardon said.
The game opened up in the fourth quarter, but in the first three, neither team could capitalize full off extended scoring droughts.
In a span of over eight minutes in the second and third quarters, St. Ignatius (7-6, 1-2) went scoreless, but the Irish could only build a 25-18 lead. Then, the cold streak hit Sacred Heart, as the Irish went over eight minutes without scoring for most of the third quarter and at the start of the fourth.
“Nobody was going to concede a basket,” Reardon said. “This has been going on in this game for 10 years.”
Dunbar’s late push just wasn’t enough to buoy the Wildcats, though, and as the final seconds ticked off the clock, one side of the gym erupted and the other fell dead silent in another classic in the Bruce-Mahoney series.
“To really experience this, you have to be here as a player, coach or fan,” Barbour said. “Reading about it gives no justice to this night.”
Sacred Heart Cathedral
Joshua Fox – 13
Khalil James – 12
Herman Pratt – 6
Taylor Johns – 5
DeOndre Otis – 3
Trevor Dunbar – 10
Antonio Aguilar – 9
Stephen Domingo – 9
Nick Johnson – 5
Two players tied with 2 points
Here is a bonus video from our friend George Nguyen and Yay Area’s Finest