Boys Basketball: Sacred Heart Cathedral edged again by Mitty in WCAL championship

Mitty junior forward Aaron Gordon goes up for a contested layup against Sacred Heart Cathedral on Saturday at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. (Photo by Doug Ko)

By Jeremy Balan

LOS ALTOS HILLS – In every meeting with the Sacred Heart Cathedral boys basketball team this season, standout Mitty forward Aaron Gordon has done just enough to beat the Irish late.

He did it again on Saturday in the West Catholic Athletic League championship game, but this time it came with an asterisk.

Gordon scored eight points in the fourth quarter to lead the Monarchs to a 50-47 comeback win over Sacred Heart at Foothill College, but the Irish played without leading scorer Joshua Fox for most of the game.

Sacred Heart Cathedral senior guard Tyler Petroni tries to slide past a Mitty defender for a layup on Saturday at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills. (Photo by Doug Ko)

Fox sustained an ankle injury and left the game late in the first quarter, then tried to return in the second quarter after receiving treatment, but was ultimately pulled by Sacred Heart head coach Darrell Barbour. Fox finished scoreless and had just two rebounds.

“I believe it’s a high-ankle sprain and the trainer from Mitty did a great job of trying to get him back out there, but when he went back out I knew he couldn’t play,” Barbour said. “If I wouldn’t have went to him, he wouldn’t have said anything and would have played, but as a coach and as a father, that kid’s health is more important than anything. He wanted to play, but I wasn’t going to play him – end of story.”

Still, the Irish (22-5) held a 28-22 lead at the half and led for the entire third quarter until the Monarchs tied the game at 34-34 on a buzzer-beating tip-in from sophomore guard Connor Peterson at the end of the third frame.

When Sacred Heart forward Taylor Johns picked up his fourth foul early in the fourth quarter, Gordon attacked the rim without fear of Johns contesting and finished with a game-high 24 points and 12 rebounds.

“That’s what top players do and when you talk about having a will to win, everyone wants to win, but he goes out with extra effort and makes the plays,” Mitty head coach Tim Kennedy said of Gordon. “He always just finds a way.”

Mitty (24-3) took the lead for good at 47-45 on another score from Peterson with 2:05 remaining and Sacred Heart cut the lead to 48-47 after a free throw from junior guard Herman Pratt with 22 seconds left, but Mitty hit two ensuing free throws and a desperate 3-point shot from Sacred Heart junior guard Khalil James missed just before time expired.

With Fox out, a different member of Sacred Heart’s supporting cast picked up the slack in each quarter.

In the second quarter it was reserve sophomore forward Liam O’Reilly scoring six points, in the third it was senior guard Tyler Petroni who scored all six of Sacred Heart’s points in the quarter, and in the fourth it was Pratt who added six points and a had huge offensive rebound in the final 30 seconds to keep the Irish alive.

“I don’t have role players,” Barbour said. “All of these kids are good players and they’ve all gotten better throughout the year. It’s good to see players who don’t normally have that opportunity step up and give us an opportunity to win. My kids played their tails off. What more can you ask for?”

Johns had 10 points and seven rebounds, but was tasked with guarding Gordon throughout and appeared winded in late moments of the game.

The series between the two teams will end this season, with Mitty heading into Division II of the Central Coast Section playoffs and Sacred Heart heading to the D-III tournament. The Monarchs got wins in all three of the games, but only by a combined margin of eight points.

“This is what you want in high school basketball, to compete with the best players and the best teams,” Kennedy said.

Scoring Summary

Aaron Gordon – 24
Thomas Peters – 7
Connor Peterson – 6
Jordan White – 6
Neil Vranicar – 3

Sacred Heart Cathedral
Tyler Petroni – 11
Taylor Johns – 10
Khalil James – 8
Herman Pratt – 8
Liam O’Reilly – 6

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  1. GCJ 01 says:

    What a big blow for SHC. They lost Fox and still only lost by three. The good thing is it shows what type of team SHC is. Even without Fox, everyone else stepped up their game. Gordon (and Mitty) got lucky that Johns picked up his fourth foul and was able to dominate. Good job SHC. I hope Fox gets better soon and is able to play in the CCS.

    • John Tuvo says:

      I agree. The one and only time I saw Fox play was Friday night’s game against a very tough Serra team.. He was brilliant.
      Obvioulsy SH has a well rounded team team to be able to hang in with a team like Mitty. Any word about how long Fox will be out?

  2. Basketball Fan says:

    I am proud of what the SHCP’s team stands for and that is team. There is no “I” in this team and that was truly witnessed in last night’s game. As usual, players stepped up and went there to play hard as a team. Great basketball SHCP! Can’t wait to see what you do in CCS.
    Thank you Coach Barbour for keeping the health of Josh foremost in your mind. It shows that you truly care for the health of our kids.

  3. funkyevo says:

    When do the CCS seeds come out?

  4. Scott says:

    On twitter he said he will be back this week…so hopefully so, I know he wants his last year to be special.

    • SF_Mikey says:

      Great game last night. Petroni, Pratt (despite early foul troubles), James and O’Reilly came up big last night after Fox went down. Officiating last night wasn’t very good with a number of questionable calls. Standing room only similar to the Serra game – nice to see lots of Irish supporters making the long trek down the 280. Hopefully Fox will be back for the CCS playoffs – it looks like their first game won’t be until Saturday Feb 25th so they maybe they can rest him until the semis on Feb 29th.

      • Chris says:

        I think James has been playing well period, Oreilly seems to be getting better every game too. Against Serra and Mitty he really has picked it up and seemed more comfortable shooting for points.

  5. padres says:

    SHC should dominate DIII CCS

    • JJ says:

      Even if Josh Fox may not be at 100%? His injury looked pretty bad when he walked off the court. SHC won’t be as dominant if he’s not in the lineup.

  6. City Lights says:

    Great try last night by the Irish and the Lady Cats.

    I hope Fox is OK. It will be very difficult for him to go full out bball style in only a week.

    He had better be careful not to make a sprain into a tear. They can get to the CCS finals and Norcal without him for sure. Only SI has even a remote possibility of beating them WITHOUT Fox.

    I wish him a speedy but not stupid recovery.

  7. funkyevo says:

    Seamus Irish
    SHCP Men are reportedly the 1-seed in the CCS DIII Playoffs. Quarterfinals will be Saturday, February 25 at SI. No official word yet.

  8. TM76 says:

    Low tops or three quarter shoes and ankle sprains do not mix. I hope Fox can come back quickly given that he is young and gets treatment on his ankle everyday.

  9. Keep it real says:

    Fox getting hurt had nothing to do with the shoes!! Should he were them
    Now? no!!! But that’s not why he got hurt!!!! A kid came down. On his legs and ankle!! Last-up-date his back walking!!!! Good for
    Him and SHC

  10. George Nguyen says: If anyone is even interested in seeing the game footage still…….

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