By Jeremy Balan
For a quarter, the Miramonte boys basketball team appeared to present a challenge for top-seeded Sacred Heart Cathedral in the second round of the California Interscholastic Federation Division III state playoffs on Saturday night.
That’s when Sacred Heart forward Taylor Johns turned the game into his own personal highlight reel.
The standout senior scored a game-high 26 points, with five emphatic dunks, to spark the Irish offense in a runaway 90-57 win over the visiting Matadors.
The Sacred Heart scoring total was a season high, and the Irish (26-5) only led 25-24 with 5:13 remaining in the second quarter, before finishing the frame with a 18-2 run. Johns scored 12 points in the second quarter on 6-of-6 shooting from the floor.
“In the first quarter, we came out kinda slow and we knew we had to pick it up,” Johns said. “In the second quarter we made a good run at the end and we took the momentum from there. It was one of those nights.”
Fellow Sacred Heart senior forward Joshua Fox had 10 points and a game-high 12 rebounds, while the sharpshooting duo of guards Herman Pratt and Tyler Petroni scored 16 and 15 points, respectively.
Pratt hit 4-of-6 shoots from 3-point range and Petroni made 4-of-5 shots from distance.
“He shot like that early in the season, then something happened.” Sacred Heart head coach Darrell Barbour said of Petroni. “He either got sick or twisted his ankle. I don’t remember, but he never got back to [shooting well in the regular season]. When he’s making those shots, it puts our offense at a whole different level.”
The health of Fox’s left ankle – which he injured against Mitty in the West Catholic Athletic League championship game and forced him to miss two Central Coast Section playoff games – will be a continuing concern for Sacred Heart, but the Irish have found comfort with him on the court.
The senior’s scoring hasn’t been up to his season average since returning, but he has been the team’s most consistent rebounder and has shown a knack for playmaking, including assists on three of Johns’ dunks against Miramonte (20-10).
“I don’t think he’s going to be completely healthy for the rest of the year, to be honest with you,” Barbour said. “He may be at 75 percent right now, but his 75 for us is much-needed. Seeing him on the floor gives me a level of comfort and I’m sure the players feel that way too.”
Johns may have stolen the show for three quarters, but when all of the Sacred Heart starters were removed early in the fourth quarter, the biggest cheers from the Irish crowd came when the Irish bench continued to extend the lead.
Led by five points from freshman guard David Parsons, the Irish bench scored 17 points in the final frame.
“I’ve been hard on them at times, because they’ve been in a ton of games where they didn’t play well,” Barbour said. “Tonight was really rewarding to see them go out and play well. I’m happy for those guys, because they’re great kids and they work hard.”
Up next for the Irish is 12th-seeded Center, which upset fifth-seeded Mission in the first round on Wednesday and took down 13th seed Foothill of Palo Cedro in the second round. Some Sacred Heart coaches were at the Mission game and Barbour sent an assistant to film Central’s win on Saturday, but the Cougars still represent a relative unknown.
On thing is certain, though. Barbour does not want the Irish to look ahead to a potential championship showdown against second-seeded Bishop O’Dowd.
“Everybody talked to me tonight about Bishop O’Dowd and I told our kids they’re going to hear that,” Barbour said. “I told them they gotta have blinders on.”
Sacred Heart Cathedral
Taylor Johns – 26
Herman Pratt – 16
Tyler Petroni – 15
Joshua Fox – 10
David Parsons – 5
Kiran Shastri – 18
Ross Anderson – 14
Joey Goodreault – 8
Drew Anderson – 7
Matt Lim – 4
Here’s another bonus video from our friend George Nguyen and Yay Area’s Finest