Boys Basketball: Gordon’s last-second tip-in sinks Sacred Heart in overtime classic

Mitty junior forward Aaron Gordon goes up for a contested layup between two Sacred Heart defenders on Saturday at Sacred Heart Cathedral. (Photo by Eric Luis)

Mitty junior forward Aaron Gordon goes up for a contested layup between two Sacred Heart defenders on Saturday at Sacred Heart Cathedral. (Photo by Eric Luis)

By Jeremy Balan

When Sacred Heart Cathedral senior forward Joshua Fox hit a 3-pointer with just 2 seconds remaining to send the West Catholic Athletic League finale with Mitty into overtime, it felt like the Irish would have a storybook ending to their regular season.

But the Irish were brought back to reality by one of the best players in the nation.

With the score tied at 58-58 with less than 20 seconds to play, Mitty standout junior forward Aaron Gordon backed down an Irish defender, spun into the paint and released a soft finger roll onto the rim.

Sacred Heart junior Joshua Fox watches his last-second 3-pointer go through the net against Mitty as the Irish crowd erupts behind him on Saturday at Sacred Heart Cathedral. (Photo by Eric Luis)

The ball rolled halfway down into the basket, then rolled out, but Gordon was there to tip in his first miss with 5 seconds remaining to give the Monarchs a 60-58 win in front of a capacity crowd on Saturday at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Gordon had a game-high 28 points and 13 rebounds, but none were more important than on that final Mitty possession.

“You just know he has that knack to get to the ball no matter what,” said Mitty head coach Tim Kennedy. “He’s the best at following up balls, because his pursuit is so good and his athleticism. He’s just a special kid.”

Sacred Heart junior guard Herman Pratt heaved a desperate shot from midcourt that appeared to be on line, but fell short, as the Irish (20-4, 8-4) lost their fourth game by three points or less.

Gordon was ultimately the hero at the end of overtime, but at the end of regulation, Fox looked primed for that tag.

With Sacred Heart down 51-48 with 5 seconds remaining, the Irish ran an inbound play from the right wing that had Fox run the up the baseline to the far corner of the court, aided by a pick.

Sacred Heart junior guard Khalil James threw the inbound pass over the entire Mitty defense to find Fox with space to shoot in the corner and the standout senior nailed the 3-pointer with a Mitty defender flying at him.

The Irish drew up the play after two Mitty fouls and a timeout from each team on that same possession.

“Tyler [Petroni] was our first option prior to that last play, but they were all over him, so I told [assistant] coach [Demitrius] Jackson, ‘Let’s go to Josh,'” said Sacred Heart head coach Darrell Barbour. “We ran the same formation, because we wanted them to still think it was going to Tyler. As a coach, what else can you ask for? It came down to execution. It was an unbelievable play.”

The game featured 11 lead changes in regulation, but the Monarchs (21-3, 11-1) jumped ahead 58-53 with 1:10 left in overtime when the Irish made another late run.

In just over 30 seconds, Sacred Heart senior forward Taylor Johns followed up an Irish miss while being fouled and James scored a running jump shot in the lane to set up Gordon’s game-winning score.

“It was a great game to be a part of,” Barbour said. “These are two pretty good high school teams and you don’t get these kinds of games, even at the collegiate level. The competitiveness, the environment, the intensity – the things you want to see as coaches – that was all here tonight.”

Sacred Heart junior guard Khalil James tries to drive past a Mitty defender on Saturday at Sacred Heart Cathedral. (Photo by Eric Luis)

Fox led the Irish with 14 points and Johns added 13, to go along with 13 rebounds and the task of guarding Gordon for almost all of the game.

But the pair seemed absent within the Sacred Heart offense at times, while the Irish guards struggled to knock down jump shots.

“As long as they touch [the ball], I’m fine and I thought they got touches,” Barbour said. “Early on, Josh was trying too hard and I could just tell he was trying to aim it, instead of just letting it flow. Taylor was guarding one of the best players in the country and that takes a lot of energy out of you.”

While the Monarchs clinched the regular-season WCAL championship and the top seed in the upcoming league playoffs earlier in the week, the Irish will get the third seed and have a first-round date with rival St. Ignatius on Tuesday, which had its best win of the season on the road against Serra on Thursday.

Sacred Heart won both regular-season meetings with the rival Wildcats, including a 68-46 rout on Monday.

“SI is feeling good about themselves, so what happened before means nothing,” Barbour said. “This is about a little tournament now. We have a chance to take a short breath, not a deep breath, and hopefully have a great practice on Monday.”

Scoring Leaders

Aaron Gordon – 28
Thomas Peters – 15
Brandon Abajelo – 5
Brandon Farrell – 4
Thomas Short – 3

Sacred Heart Cathedal
Joshua Fox – 14
Khalil James – 13
Taylor Johns – 13
Herman Pratt – 9
Tyler Petroni – 4

Here’s another bonus video from our friend George Nguyen and Yay Area’s Finest

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23 Comments on "Boys Basketball: Gordon’s last-second tip-in sinks Sacred Heart in overtime classic"

  1. Way to play and represent the city of San Francisco, I would like to see the “W” but there is always tomorrow. GO IRISH!

  2. I think the SHC girl’s coach once said that it’s hard to beat your arch-rival 3 times in 1 season, but I think SHC may just do that on Tuesday. In the 2nd matchup, SHC was giving a freshman (David Parsons) significant minutes, and SHC won pretty handily, but then when they played Mitty, I doubt that he even played……did he? There’s even a chance that SHC and SI might face each other 4 times this year and maybe even 5 times, if the pieces fall in the right place. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to see SHC beat SI 5 times in 1 year in basketball.

    • No, Parsons didn’t play. The coach did start the game with 5 seniors since it was Senior Night, but I don’t think it had any bearing on the outcome.

      • All the seniors did really well actually. Very low scoring first quarter though. It was 5-4 after the 1st I think.

    • I think after last year’s massacre of Serra over SHC in the first round (running clock), they shouldnt take anybody for granted, especially SI-the Cats have nothing to lose. It will be close.

  3. If anything, SHC can take away the fact that they can hang with arguably the best team in the WCAL. Unfortunately, the two meetings between the two didn’t end up in their favor, but the games were close. Good job SHC.

    • Wish I went to the game but got to watch the video feed on (found that thanks to a tweet from @sanfranpreps). Great game and, although they ended up with a L, overall a great job by SHCP!

    • 0-2, is 0-2.

      If they played Mitty 10 times, they would lose 8.

  4. Very good game haven’t seen that many ppl at the school and about 3years!! Maybe it will be another State for Both Teams!! And big game James came to play with the rest of SH team!!good job by both coaches and Gorden is the best I’ve seen in15years!! In-side and out side game!! Very good and looks like his only going to get better!!! SH by 12 over SI on Tuesday

  5. Great game last night. First time I’ve seen Gordon this year and his game is greatly improved from last year. He brings the ball up the court, initiates the offense and hit a 3-pointer and a few pull up jump shots plus had a few crazy dunks. Taylor Johns came to play and played very good defense on Gordon. His block on # 11 at the end of regulation was epic! It was the best high school game I’ve seen in years. The rest of the Mitty team was surprisingly good especially Peters who lit it up and they play great defense. SHC overall played well but just too much Gordon.

    Lastly my fourth grade son was super stoked to meet Taylor Johns before the game – he knows Coach Jackson who kindly introduced him to Taylor. It was a great night watching high school hoops on a Saturday night in the City!

    • It was probably one of the best SH games I’ve ever watched. Both teams played extremely hard like it was for the state title. AG32 was monstrous. If I were to find something wrong about him regarding yesterday it was that I wished he destroyed the rim. He laid up probably 7-8 baskets which he easily could’ve sent home. I got all the footage too. Only saw his one dunk on a breakaway but didn’t count because he took 4 steps. Gordon still doesn’t knock off my #1 WCAL player all time Senque Carey. But if he wins another state title that would vault him to #1.

  6. In other news, SHC Frosh A’s win WCAL. 20-1 record. Congrats!!

    • They were one of the best Frosh teams I’ve seen in years.

      • Ive never seen them play but can you compare them to some other SH teams? Does the team potentially have anyone that can be one of the next duos that we have now?

        • They play as a very cohesive unit and come across as very well coached. The only thing they lack is height. The tallest player is maybe 6’2″ or 6’3″, so unless they get some twin-tower-transfers, future varsity teams will have to win with playmaking ability.

        • They have 3 kids who are extremely talented on the freshman A’s, and they actually moved one of them to varsity the last few games. I believe his name is David Parsons. Very good kid, has a bright future ahead of him.

          • After watching the bonus video from YayArea’sFinest, SHC screwed up in overtime. Instead of banking a layup by Khalil James, they should’ve let the clock dwindle under 10 seconds, then shoot a 3. By scoring a layup with 18 secs left, they gave Mitty an eternity to win the game. As for Aaron Gordon, I think he should change his position to point guard, because he can handle the rock, make nice passes, and can cross you over like Allen Iverson.

            • Those banners have always been there since the gym first opended. I predict a close game like BM game. It means something so SH will be tight.

  7. Good frosh team that plays together, but the Jv team is awful so some of the frosh players will have a chance to move up soon. The Jv team 3 years in a row has been very bad, a reason can be moving solid sophomores up to varsity and trying to develop the ones who need it. My opinion is all teams go through ups and downs and I believe in keeping a solid group of kids together and not moving kids up to sit the bench. If a kid isn’t going to play at least 60% of game then why move a kid up? Let the kids develop and earn their way to the next level. Good luck to all city schools with playoffs coming this week. Keep working hard kids!!

  8. Also, I think SHC added 2 banners on the wall at each of the court. Maybe the AD read our “complaints” that the gym looks bland. I don’t think those banners were there at the SI-SHC game that I attended.

    • I didn’t notice any new banners in the gym.

      • If you watch the bonus video, you can see a banner behind each of the backboards, if you look closely. I’m not sure if those were there before, but I think they weren’t. One banner says SHC, I think, and the other banner has a shamrock.

        • Maybe those banners were always there. LOL. Do you think there will be a love-affair on Valentine’s Day between SI and SHC, or another double digit beat-down? With this SI team, you don’t know which team will show up, they are like Jekyll and Hyde. One night it looks like they are playing great, then the next game, they can’t even hit the ocean. With SHC, they seems more consistent, only laying an egg like once every 10 games.

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