By Jeremy Balan
It wasn’t a banner night offensively for most on the floor at Sacred Heart Cathedral on Saturday night.
That is, except for standout Sacred Heart forward Joshua Fox.
Fox was the only player on either team to score in double figures, with a game-high 22 points and 13 rebounds, as the Irish cruised to a 58-43 West Catholic Athletic League win over visiting Bellarmine.
The 6-foot-4 senior scored Sacred Heart’s first six points of the game to spur a 11-1 run, but it was his play during long stretches of foul trouble for frontcourt-mate Taylor Johns that buoyed the Irish throughout.
“We work together all of the time, so when I saw him go down and get frustrated, I had to pick it up,” Fox said. “I just wanted to keep the energy up and we wanted to send a message tonight.”
The intended message is that the Irish (16-3, 6-3) are a contender for the WCAL title, despite three close losses on the road in league play by a combined seven points, including a one-point loss to the Bells (11-8, 4-5) on Jan. 6.
“We were really upset about all of the losses we’ve had and we feel we didn’t give it our all,” Fox said. “Tonight we wanted to show everybody that wasn’t us. We’re coming after everybody from now on.”
The Irish shot 38 percent from the floor, but took 19 more shot attempts from the field than the Bells, who often looked stagnant on offense and committed 20 turnovers.
The Bells were able to stay relatively close with a 15-for-17 shooting performance from the free-throw line, but never cut the Irish lead below 10 after Sacred Heart pushed their advantage to double digits late in the second quarter.
“Everything in competition, and certainly in basketball, requires five guys playing as hard as they can on every possession,” said Bellarmine head coach Patrick Schneider. “Sacred Heart came ready to play – and Fox certainly didn’t want to make it three losses in a row – and we didn’t.”
What was most striking about Fox’s performance was his versatility in scoring, as it has been all season. He got to the free-throw line early, finished regularly in the paint, slammed home a put-back dunk, hit mid-range shots and knocked down a 3-pointer.
“The thing with Josh that people don’t talk about is that he’s just a basketball player,” said Sacred Heart head coach Darrell Barbour. “I love guys that can just play basketball, and you can put him anywhere on the floor and he’ll do something positive for you.”
Fox also led an impressive Irish shot-blocking effort with four blocks, and even in limited time, Johns had an impact on the defensive end with three denials.
Still, Fox – who Barbour says is his own biggest critic – found plenty of room for improvement from a defensive standpoint.
“Great talking teams are great defensive teams, and right now, we’re an OK talking team and an OK defensive team. We could have stepped it up a little bit more,” Fox said, looking up at the scoreboard. “They scored too much.”
Sacred Heart Cathedral
Joshua Fox – 22
Khalil James – 8
DeOndre Otis – 8
Herman Pratt – 8
Tyler Petroni – 6
Grant Vermeer – 9
Isaac Gales – 8
Griffin Goudreau – 6
Jack Fordyce – 4
Four players tied with 2 points