Boys Basketball: Sacred Heart Cathedral falls just short to Alemany in state title game

Sacred Heart Cathedral senior forward Taylor Johns (left) rips down a rebound against Alemany in the Division III state championship game on Saturday at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento. (Photo by Matt Zheng)

By Jeremy Balan

SACRAMENTO — The Sacred Heart Cathedral boys basketball team’s chances of winning a state championship simply rolled off the rim in a 71-67 loss to Bishop Alemany of Mission Hills in the California Interscholastic Federation Division III championship game on Saturday at Power Balance Pavilion.

Down 69-67 with under 30 seconds remaining, Sacred Heart junior guard Khalil James drove into the lane and released a shot. The ball bounced off the rim and Sacred Heart senior forward Taylor Johns skied for the rebound, tipped the ball softly back onto the rim, but the ball swirled off the back iron.

Alemany junior guard KJ Moffet (left) skies to contest a shot from Sacred Heart Cathedral sophomore forward Liam O'Reilly in the Division III state championship game on Saturday at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento. (Photo by Matt Zheng)

Alemany standout senior Marqueze Coleman took in the ensuing rebound and was immediately fouled with 9 seconds left.

“We were not going to lose this game on an offensive rebound,” Coleman said. “I snatched the rebound to secure the win. We weren’t going to lose on that.”

That’s when a big-time player hit two big-time shots.

Coleman, headed to Nevada next season, sank both free throws to cap off a game-high 27 points and put the game out of reach.

“[I] make two and the game is over,” Coleman said.

Coleman was undoubtedly the best player on the floor, but the game was dictated by officiating and foul trouble throughout.

In the first half, Coleman and fellow starters Jerico Richardson and Bear Henderson all missed significant time, and the Irish (28-6) held a 40-32 advantage at the break.

In the third quarter, Johns, who was on pace to set a state championship game record with 14 first-half rebounds to go along with 11 points, received his fourth foul, as did standout perimeter defender Herman Pratt.

Their absence allowed Alemany (33-4) to outscore the Irish 23-11 in the third quarter and to take a 55-51 lead heading into the fourth. Forty total fouls were called, including three technicals, with 20 fouls apiece for each team.

“I had guys on the bench watching the game with me — players I need to have on the floor,” said Sacred Heart head coach Darrell Barbour. “That’s critical. That being said, our kids kept fighting back.”

The pair’s foul trouble not only limited the Irish’s offense (Johns was held to two points in the second half), but the way they defended Coleman and Alemany point guard Max Guercy, who finished with 19 points. Pratt was no longer defending Coleman and the driving Alemany guards did not have to worry about Johns’ long shot-blocking arms in the paint.

“In the first half, I thought we were the better team,” Barbour said. “To me, it was quite clear. They had some guys in foul trouble too, but when it was our five best players against their five best players, I thought we were the better team.”

Johns’ time on the bench also impacted the Irish rebounding game. The 6-foot-6 senior outrebounded the Warriors by himself in the first half (14-11), but Alemany outrebounded Sacred Heart 22-17 in the second half.

Sacred Heart Cathedral junior guard Herman Pratt (left) and Alemany senior guard Jerico Richardson battle for position in pursuit of a loose ball in the Division III state championship game on Saturday at Power Balance Pavilion in Sacramento. (Photo by Matt Zheng)

“Taylor is a big body, athletic, takes up space, shot-blocker. Herman is one of the best on-the-ball defenders in high school I’ve ever seen,” Barbour said. “You take them off the floor and their aggressiveness away . . . in our psyche and from a confidence standpoint, we got caught back on our heels.”

Sacred Heart senior forward Joshua Fox buoyed the Irish in the second half with 12 points, but the SHC guards, which scored 22 points in the first half, scored only 13 in the second.

“What a tale of two halves . . . they did a great job of persevering,” said Alemany head coach Tray Meeks. “We talked about only being down by eight [at the half], because our guys can score and when we play defense, we’re tough to deal with.”

The Irish scoring totals weren’t as important as their efficiency, though, as Sacred Heart shot 60 percent from the floor in the first half, but just 34 percent in the second half and 19 percent in the crucial third quarter. The Irish also shot 12-of-20 from the free-throw line, while Alemany made 22-of-29.

“We lost to a very good team, a team that didn’t quit,” Barbour said. “We got out of character in the third quarter, kinda like the first quarter in the [Bishop] O’Dowd game. We rushed on offense [and] took too many jumpers instead of attacking them.”

Fox totaled a team-high 19 points and Johns finished with a 13 points and 19 rebounds, but the statistics didn’t take away the sting of the final result, as both spent the postgame ceremony with their heads deeply buried in their hands.

Barbour, who has heaped praise on the tightly-knit group all season, also had a rare moment of emotion in the postgame press conference.

“It feels different to win your last game than lose your last game,” Barbour said, his voice just barely quivering.

Scoring Leaders

Marqueze Coleman – 27
Max Guercy – 19
Bear Henderson – 12
KJ Moffett – 8
Michael Coleman – 3

Sacred Heart Cathedral
Joshua Fox – 19
Tyler Petroni – 15
Taylor Johns – 13
Herman Pratt – 10
Two players tied with 5 points

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  1. SF Native says:

    my un-bias opinion. I wanted SH to win, but watching the game on TV it just seemed that Alemany wanted it more coming out the gate in the 2nd half. The press and change of tempo just through off SH’s momentum. Also foul trouble plagued the team.

    Other than that, just want to say I have played with a some of these kids growing up, and all of them I know are great kids. Great Job at getting to State!!

  2. BigMikeDC says:

    Free throws boys, free throws….

  3. Crusader 88 says:

    I’m finally to see the game On Demand, as a referee you never have a good game when you screw up the opening toss!

  4. steve says:

    This was a very well officiated game and the best played high school game I have seen in a very long time. In the end Alemany just had more talent than SHC and that usually wins out. i was at 5 SHCP games this year and frankly they played their butts off tonight, but Alemany had just a bit more.

  5. RC Cola says:

    I thought the refs did a fine job. They moderated from the beginning and didn’t allow any contact to happen. Towards the end, they loosened up. If the teams can’t deal with fouling, they shouldn’t be in the championship game.

  6. Keep it real says:

    Your right Crusader!! Lol they didn’t even want to get the jump ball right!!! I new it would be a long game for SH after that!!!! But the team still had a chance to win if they make free throws!! Great season and good luck to all the young man and coach B!!!! It’s been a great year of Team
    Basketball! Thanks SHC and to JB for sharing this great Ride with so many Fans!!!

  7. MJ says:

    Having Taylor Johns in foul trouble hurt SHC the entire game. That’s what allowed Alemany to get a run in the second half.

    • Johnny Drama says:

      Using this logic you could then say that the reason SH had an 8 point lead at halftime is because Coleman and Henderson sat most of the 2nd Q with foul trouble. After the first Q Alemany was winning, SH took the lead when the best player on the floor was sitting with 3 fouls. When they put him back in they were in control the rest of the way. The Irish were in foul trouble due to the motors and athleticism of Alemany. While many fouls were called, as JB pointed out, it was 20-20 and the T’s were 2-1 Alemany so nobody gained an advantage. The difference is Coleman played most of the 2nd half without picking up his 4th, if he did it was late in the game. MC was clearly the best player and SH had no answer for him. The PG also clearly outplayed the SH PG’s.

      Mr Balan, as muched as I cringed seeing all the SH coverage, you did an amazing job covering the coach and players. We saw a side of them we otherwise would not have seen. Hopefully SI will be relevant in hoops again in my lifetime so we can see the same type of coverage.

      • IC Stars says:

        Maybe you can search for all the Mrlik articles and re-read them.

        • Josh Weinstein says:

          Overkill on the SHCP coverage this week? Yes, but well deserved and well written features especially the one on Zach Tapel. I also know that San Fran Preps in the past couple of seasons has had all SI stories on the home page a couple of times. However in SI’s case, the coverage was for more than one winning Wildcat sports team.

  8. JJ says:

    I also cringed reading all the SHC coverage, but it was well-deserved. It would’ve been nice for a San Francisco school to win a State championship this year, but at the same time, if SHC would’ve won State, alot of the SHC supporters would’ve took jabs at the SI basketball program. State runner-ups is nothing to be ashamed of, but winning State would’ve let the SHC fans the right to thump on their chest like a gorilla.

    The fouls were many, but SHC was called for more fouls in crunch time (the 2nd half), which allowed Alemany to squeak out a victory. I’d rather watch a basketball game with the best players on the floor, not the best players sitting on the bench. Like the D3 game, that’s what basically happened in the D1 game too. All of Sheldon’s best players fouled out, while 1 of Mater Dei’s best player fouled out. Both games would’ve been better, if the refs didn’t decide the outcome.

    • Chris says:

      JJ, I agree with you statement about the fouls and the SH better players sitting on the bench. Still as a SH fan I know SH missed some easy shots too. However, for you to say SH would be thumping their chest, etc, if they won is not true. If SI was in SH’s place, please don’t tell me some SI fans would not be doing the same thing. I think the majority of SH fans are pretty low key.

      • Josh Weinstein says:

        SHCP fans not “thumping their chests” and putting down SI after a SHCP win in any sport regardless if it was against SI? Funny. You must not read any of Ari Gold’s posts.

        • Chris says:

          Josh, I said majority of SH fans…not the minority. Ari Gold is the SH version of Johnny Drama for SI. I guess you really don’t read these posts.

  9. sfpatriot says:

    Congrats to the Irish on a really overall terrific season. Coaches and all players (incl injured Zach) should be proud of all you accomplished.

  10. nextstophoopville says:

    I really enjoyed following SH this season, they were a balanced bunch. As far as the game went, free throws and whistles played a major role as they always do. Thats why I play in the park !!

  11. wcal says:

    SHC coach did not once again say his losing team was the best team! Please tell me that was a misquote!!

    • Chris says:

      He said they were the better team in the first half..which was true. They had a bad third quarter and a ok 4th quarter but they lost.

      • Josh Weinstein says:

        And the Texas Rangers were the better baseball team in the 2012 World Series in Game 3 against the Giants. Therefore they are the better team. #BarbourLogic

  12. Josh Weinstein says:

    Opps, 2012 World Series. Go Giants! *that’s something we can all agree on, right?

  13. Josh Weinstein says:

    2010, mean. #typingproblems

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