Boys Basketball: St. Ignatius survives close call against Lincoln

By Jeremy Balan

The Lincoln boys basketball team’s 69-61 loss to visiting St. Ignatius on Saturday night left a bittersweet taste in the mouth of Lincoln head coach Matt Jackson.

On one hand, the Mustangs hung with a West Catholic Athletic League opponent throughout. On the other, they were in a position to upset the Wildcats, but squandered the opportunity.

Trailing just 65-61 with 52 seconds remaining, a well-executed, full-court trap by Demetrius Williams and Seth Snoddy forced a St. Ignatius turnover. With an opportunity to cut the St. Ignatius lead to a single possession, the Mustangs threw the ball away on consecutive possessions to give the Wildcats breathing room.

“Take away a couple turnovers in key situations and the game is different,” Jackson said. “We really needed to take care of the ball in those situations, but we’ll get better.”

What may have stung even more was that the Mustangs (0-6) largely outplayed St. Ignatius (5-1) for three quarters, but in the second, the Wildcats played their best and that was enough.

Lincoln junior center Seth Snoddy (front) battles for position with St. Ignatius senior center Andrew Vollert on Saturday at Lincoln High School. (Photo by Willie Eashman)

Lincoln junior center Seth Snoddy (front) battles for position with St. Ignatius senior center Andrew Vollert on Saturday at Lincoln High School. (Photo by Willie Eashman)

Behind 12 second-quarter points from senior shooting guard Daniel MacLean-Vernic, the Wildcats shot 9-of-13 from the floor, outscored Lincoln 26-11 in the second frame and turned a 12-9 Lincoln lead after the first quarter to a 35-23 St. Ignatius advantage at the halftime break. The four-point spread late in the fourth quarter was as close as the Mustangs would get to regaining the lead.

“I’m encouraged because of the flashes of really good basketball,” said St. Ignatius head coach Tim Reardon. “But the consistency – I mean, we have wild momentum changes, where it looks like it’s going to be a 25-point win and it turns into a dogfight.”

St. Ignatius junior point guard Trevor Dunbar scored all nine of the Wildcats’ points in the first quarter and finished with a game-high 19 points. The St. Ignatius offense was largely ineffective early, but got bailed out by Dunbar, who hit three mid-range jump shots and a three-pointer in the opening quarter.

Even in victory, Reardon was not pleased with another close call against a public-school opponent. The Wildcats only have one loss (to Westmoor), but beat Aragon by four points on Friday.

“They have no reason to come out and think they’re way better than anybody, but there were parts of this game where they were walking around almost cocky,” Reardon said. “I don’t know how they can do that the way we’re playing.”

Defending athletic guards has been an issue for the Wildcats and they had difficulties again against the Mustangs. Lincoln senior guards James Gurr and Mitchell Lee regularly penetrated to get open mid-range jump shots that were nearly unstoppable.

The most encouraging sign for the Mustangs, however, was the play Snoddy and fellow junior Davion Telfor. Both had near double-doubles (Snoddy finished with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Telfor hit three three-pointers, and had 13 points and nine rebounds) and will present a mismatch inside for most Academic Athletic Association teams. Both had key moments in the second half to keep the game close and Snoddy hit his final four shots from the floor.

“That second quarter did us in, but our guys kept fighting,” Jackson said. “We’ve been working on staying together, staying composed, competing and having pride on the court. There’s been a couple losses [this season] where we’ve kinda thrown in the towel, but not tonight.”

St. Ignatius countered in the paint with a double-double from senior forward Julian Marcu (13 points, 10 rebounds), but Reardon would like to see more contributions from his seniors.

“We’ve had moments where I know we can play and compete in the WCAL, but we just don’t have enough of those moments,” Reardon said. “I’m waiting to see some senior leadership figure out how we can do it. One of the problems is that two of those guys that should be the leaders have only had two practices with us.”

Those two seniors, Albert Waters and Andrew Vollert, missed a significant chunk of the early season due to St. Ignatius’ extended football season, but took strides in the second half against Lincoln. The pair combined to score 17 points (all in the second half) and Vollert brought down nine rebounds, while Dunbar didn’t get a shot off in the fourth quarter.

“There’s a lot of guys on their heels looking to see what Trevor does. We’re not going to beat any good teams that way,” Reardon said. “If teams want to take Trevor out of the game, they’re going to, and someone else has to do it.”

Scoring Leaders

St. Ignatius
Trevor Dunbar – 19
Daniel MacLean-Vernic – 13
Julian Marcu – 13
Albert Waters – 9
Andrew Vollert – 8

Lincoln
James Gurr – 16
Seth Snoddy – 14
Davion Telfor – 13
Mitchell Lee – 11
Demetrius Williams – 6

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10 Comments

  1. JJ says:

    SI better get their act together, or else they will lose their next game against El Camino….again. I think this year’s team is a tad better than last year’s team.

  2. wcalsf says:

    Huh? No Domingo, no Butler, no Roberts. A loss to Westmoor and a close game against Lincoln? How many more wins do you really think the football players will add? Dunbar is a stud, but it’s only Dunbar. SHC, SF, Serra,Mitty and Riordan have 2 or more guards that are very good.

    • JJ says:

      You don’t think SI will have a record better than 11-15? Butler didn’t even play, Roberts had little impact and Wentworth is an upgrade from him. Domingo forced shots, shooting 1-10 in numerous games and him skipping his senior year confirms that he didn’t really care about SI.

      • wcalsf says:

        what concerns me is that none of the seniors, much less underclassmen that had significant minutes, never improved or were not set up to succeed. look at aguilar last year, everytime he was in something positive happened for the team. you had a 6-7 player in domingo and he rarely drove or posted up against smaller players much less played defense. where was coach r. to intervene and shake things up?

  3. JJ says:

    As “Hoosier” already suggested, Aguilar regressed from his junior year to senior year. I’m pretty sure whoever “Hoosier” is, he knows what he’s talking about, probably a current or former head basketball coach. And losing to Westmoor can’t be that bad, SI lost to a good Westmoor 7-1 team with their only loss to Riordan, but the game was probably closer than what the score indicates. And Domingo wasn’t really bigger than most of the big men in the WCAL. The only team he was bigger than was Riordan and SI won both games. Bellarmine, St Francis, Serra, Mitty, SHC, and even VC were all bigger teams.

    • AFitzsimon says:

      Aguilar also had a nagging shoulder injury the whole season which effected everything he did. He was a bruiser on the block at 6-5 and the whole shoulder thing seemed to throw him off course as far as wanting to bang inside.

  4. hoosier says:

    SI made some good adjustments to their offensive rotation against Lincoln, which led to a couple big offensive rebounds and put backs in fourth quarter.

    As jbalen highlighted. man to man defense is still getting beat off the dribble drive, so would like to see how a zone defense would eliminate the easy baskets this allowed against Westmoor and Lincoln.

    Blogs can sometimes be too negative, so wanted to highlight a positive from Saturday night. In sports, you’re either moving forward or backwards,, growing stronger or becoming weaker, learning from experiences or avoiding reality…..last night was a moving forward moment for SI basketball

    • Matthew Snyder says:

      That’s a good call about shifting to zone in select occasions — particularly against teams that have drive-happy guards.

      Stuart Hall’s shift to a 1-3-1 zone in the third quarter against Mission on Saturday night flummoxed the Bears for nearly the entire period (they shot 4-of-15, but were buoyed by Antoine Porter’s six points in the frame).

      Porter was off the ball for most of that quarter, starting on the right three-point baseline in a spread offense set. As the quarter wore on, he reassumed ballhandling duties, but as a group Mission were far less effective against the zone than they were against man.

      And Porter is one of the most impressive dribble-drivers I’ve seen of late in high school basketball.

      If SI can stifle penetration in a zone, and keep opponents off the offensive glass — and it sounds like they have the pieces to do so — it could definitely make for an interesting look in future games.

      • AAA says:

        I was not at the game but I do agree switching up the defense may have taken away Lincoln’s dribble penetration. But at the same time I do agree with SI playing man-to-man because that will be the primary defense that they will play in league. Although pre-season is the time to work on other things that you may use in games in limited action, but if SI has not used any type of zone in any of their games up to this point they may not use zone at all. Even though it may be good to change it up to counter what the opposition is doing.

        In the AAA, there are teams that run one set (i.e. dribble-drive) for the majority of the game such as Mission but have other plays within that set/formation they can run. De La Salle runs the Princeton which Lincoln will have to defend tomorrow, but if a team can defend an offense and the personnel then it is on the coach make adjustment.

  5. AAA says:

    meant to say “but if a team can’t defend an offense and the personnel then it is on the coach make adjustment.”

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