Boys Basketball: Marcu the difference in St. Ignatius’ road win over El Camino

St. Ignatius junior forward Julian Marcu goes up for a contested layup against El Camino on Thursday at El Camino High School in South San Francisco. (Photo by Christian Chew)

St. Ignatius junior forward Julian Marcu goes up for a contested layup against El Camino on Thursday at El Camino High School in South San Francisco. (Photo by Christian Chew)

By Jeremy Balan

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO – St. Ignatius forward Julian Marcu plays bigger than his 6-foot-1 height — literally and figuratively.

Without the 210-pound junior, the St. Ignatius boys basketball team might not even have a winning record, and he was the reason they won on Thursday night at El Camino.

Marcu had a game-high 21 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks in a 50-46 non-league win over El Camino, avenging the Wildcats’ loss to the Colts last season in the Central Coast Section Division III semifinals.

“When Stephen [Domingo] left [for Georgetown], the juniors knew they had to step up,” Marcu said. “I always try to play bigger and more physical. You gotta box out.”

Eight of Marcu’s points came in a crucial fourth quarter, which started with the Wildcats (6-1) trailing 35-33. He scored off an offensive rebound to give St. Ignatius its first lead of the second half at 40-39 with 4:22 remaining, assisted on the next score to extend the lead, then sunk two free throws with 3 seconds remaining to push the advantage to two possessions and seal the game.

St. Ignatius senior guard Matt Brown goes up for a shot between two defenders on Thursday at El Camino High School in South San Francisco. (Photo by Christian Chew)

St. Ignatius senior guard Matt Brown goes up for a shot between two defenders on Thursday at El Camino High School in South San Francisco. (Photo by Christian Chew)

“He wants it and we want him to get it,” said St. Ignatius head coach Tim Reardon. “When the other team is in foul trouble, teams are afraid to help and you need to help to guard him.”

The Wildcats also made a significant stand defensively in the fourth quarter and at crucial moments. Senior guard Albert Waters had four of his game-high five steals in the fourth, point guard Trevor Dunbar forced a five-second violation on El Camino standout point guard Elijah White and Marcu took a charge on El Camino’s Michael Smith with 2:38 remaining and the Wildcats clinging to a 44-42 lead.

“We haven’t even practiced offense since the Lincoln game,” Reardon said. “We’ve had four two-hour practices of just defense catered to Elijah — and Trevor did an unbelievable job on him in the second half — and we had guys just trailing Michael all over the floor.”

White and Smith — who entered the game leading the CCS in scoring at 23.7 points per game — scored 18 and 17 points, respectively, but the rest of the Colts (5-2) combined to score just two points in the second half. Of the 25 shots from the field El Camino took in the second half, 18 came from Smith and White.

“They took a lot of shots, but the other people on the court weren’t stepping up and saying that wasn’t what we were supposed to be doing,” said El Camino head coach Archie Junio. “It was succumbing to two people and changing the aspect from five on five to two on five.”

Unbalanced as the El Camino offense was, Smith and White did just enough to keep the Colts close in the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats always had an answer.

White hit a three-pointer to knot the game up at 42-42, then Dunbar — who struggled shooting and went scoreless in the first half, but scored seven points in the second — hit a jump shot on the next possession. When White made a block on another Dunbar jumper with just over a minute left, Waters was there to almost immediately steal the ball away.

Still, St. Ignatius almost gave the game away late.

The first misstep came from Reardon, who was given a technical foul while vehemently contesting an official’s call with 1:59 remaining. Reardon was restrained by players and admitted after the game that he had lost his composure. Smith knocked down both technical free throws to cut the St. Ignatius lead to 46-44.

El Camino senior guard Michael Smith (left) tries to drive past St. Ignatius junior Tristan Wentworth on Thursday at El Camino High School in South San Francisco. (Photo by Christian Chew)

El Camino senior guard Michael Smith (left) tries to drive past St. Ignatius junior Tristan Wentworth on Thursday at El Camino High School in South San Francisco. (Photo by Christian Chew)

“I thought I lost the game for us,” Reardon said. “I didn’t think I would get it because I turned away. At first, when he made the call, I was so flabbergasted, I kinda lost it. They sucked it up, though. It’s easy for a team to fold when they could blame their coach for a loss.”

The second misstep was a shot-clock violation immediately following a St. Ignatius timeout that gave the ball back to the Colts with 15 seconds remaining, only trailing 48-46. But White’s three-pointer from the left-hand corner with 5 seconds left clanked off the rim and Marcu brought down his final rebound.

“It’s good to get in close games in the preseason,” Reardon said. “You know, if you’re playing well, that you’re going to be in close games in the [West Catholic Athletic League]. If you’re not playing well, they will not be close.”

Scoring Leaders

St. Ignatius
Julian Marcu – 21
Matt Brown – 9
Trevor Dunbar – 7
Albert Waters – 4
Daniel MacLean-Vernic – 3

El Camino
Elijah White – 18
Michael Smith – 17
Tajah Childs – 7
Anthony Hines – 2
Blake Turner – 2

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  1. JJ says:

    This was a very entertaining basketball game. Last year, SI lost to El Camino twice, so it’s very sweet to win on the Colts’ homecourt on the 3rd try. These 2 teams could face each again in the CCS playoffs. D3 looks pretty stacked this year with Riordan also in the mix. I don’t remember SI ever coming back from behind to win a game last year, so this was a great learning experience to know that they can come back and win a game. Also, I felt the jumpball call by the ref with 1:59 remaining was a bad call. How can it be a jumpball when Jaren Yang made the basket? Doesn’t make sense. I can understand why Coach Reardon was livid. The other referee (the tall, bald guy) is a very good ref and he called a good game, though.

    • jbalan says:

      They won’t meet in the CCS playoffs, unfortunately. El Camino is in Division II this season.

      Riordan also won’t see SI in the CCS playoffs. They are in Division IV.

      • JJ says:

        That sucks. It would’ve been another great game if they met up again.

      • Ari Gold says:

        JB basketball is still doing those school enrollment (size) classifications for CCS or will they do that formula like football were top 4 WCAL are in Open or D1? Im not familiar with the rule changes. Enlighten.

        • jbalan says:

          I’m not entirely sure either how the Open would work, but it doesn’t appear to be in place this season from what I can gather on the CCS website.

          • JJ says:

            I think the Open Division will begin in the NorCal playoffs, after the CCS championships are over. I think the only team to qualify from San Francisco for Open Division is SHC, depending if they go far in CCS. Powerhouses like Mitty, Salesian, BOD, DLS should make the Open, I believe.

            • wcalsf says:

              There is a thread in Norcalpreps that indicates there would be a CCS Open based on current season’s record, SOS, and CA/NorCal ranking. Top 4 WCAL teams would most likely qualify just like football with remaining 4 from the other “A” leagues. NorCal Open classification is slightly differs. Teams need to have been top league, section and CA ranked past 2 seasons. Open locks if it plays out would be Salesian, Mitty, Sheldon, Modesto Christian, El Cerritos, Newark, DLS and BOD.
              Riordan would most like be placed in D IV. Perhaps ARHS Stats can confirm.

          • Ari Gold says:

            We can conceivably see a Riordan vs Salesian matchup in D4 NorCals. Thats going to be one helluva game.

          • Ari Gold says:

            JB will you be going to CSU-East Bay for the Riordan game + the granddaddy Mitty vs Salesian at 730 on Saturday?

    • SF_Mikey says:

      Nice win by SI last night – it sounds like they have a scrappy team who plays hard. It’ll be fun to watch them take on Riordan on Jan 2nd.

  2. wcalsf says:

    jj, good win for the cats. jbalan mentioned that the gym was packed starting with the jv game. nothing like playing in front of a packed house and quieting the crowd with a win.

    • WCAL Alum says:

      I am sure this is a much more enjoyable year for Coach Reardon and staff without the drama/chemstry associated with last year’s team.

      This year, I wouldnt be surprised to see a .500 record in games between all WCAL City teams.

      • JJ says:

        I’m not so sure about the enjoyable part. He was screaming to the top of his lungs most of the game and his face turned red with anger during the technical. At least the guy cares. SI’s JV coach seems like a John Wooden-type. Calm.

    • Ari Gold says:

      Well given that EC was up for the whole game until the last few minutes, Im not so sure the quieting effect would be relevant here. Now if SI was blowing them out the entire game yes I can see the crowd being silenced. But overall when the game is over the crowd is pretty quiet when filing out.

  3. Ari Gold says:

    I had Tim as a teacher decades ago. I really like the guy and his style of teaching. The screaming part probably was heat of the moment, but of course you would be tense if your WCAL team playing against the likes of Aragon, Westmoor, EC, Lincoln (teams that if you are supposedly a top tier WCAL, you should beat handly 9/10 times) and just barely squeaking by. But I admit a close game is better to watch than a snoozer. Good win for the Wildcats.

  4. WCAL Alum says:

    Tim Reardon is very competitive and extremely devoted to his alma mater. He definately recognizes the privlledge of coaching at SI and the standards set by those before him. People can be arm-chair qbs and question his coaching style but you cannot dispute his desire to succeed. I see nothing wrong with Tim (or any coach) picking his battles to explode as long at its not detrimental to the team in the long run.

    • jbalan says:

      I don’t share my personal opinion a lot on here, but I strongly disagree with one thing you said.

      If Reardon was “picking his battle,” that was the worst time to take a technical foul and it was deserved, regardless of the call in question, which I agree didn’t make a whole lot of sense. Nothing was going El Camino’s way at that point and that technical foul not only gave them two free points with no time off the clock, but they kept possession and it got the crowd back into the game.

      It didn’t turn out costing SI, and he expressed relief it didn’t, because he would have felt responsible. All that being said, everyone is certainly allowed a lapse in composure, but to say he “picked his battle” I think is way off the mark.

      • WCAL Alum says:

        I wasnt at the game. The reference to “picking his (or any coach’s)battles” was generic to timing. No offense to disagreeing with me in the content.

  5. Cats Pride says:

    Did SI’s JV win?

  6. ARHS Stats says:

    C.C.S. Basketball Open Divison

    It was approved by the C.C.S. Board of Managers on October 17th.

    Teams in the Open Division will play in a tournament with a winner’s bracket and a consolation bracket through 1st, 3rd, and 5th place games.

    Teams are selected by the Selection & Seeding Committee.

    No more than 4 teams from any one league can be selected for the Open Division.
    No more than 3 teams from any enrollment division can be selected for the Open Division.
    All teams selected for the Open Division earn an automatic berth for the NorCal Regional Tournament in their enrollment division.
    Teams from the same league can’t play in the first round of the Open Division.

    This means the Top four WCAL teams will probably be in the C.C.S. Open Division.

    The Favorite for the Open Division Champion is probably going to be Archbishop Mitty.

    • Ari Gold says:

      Very interesting Pat. Mitty, Serra, Riordan and either SHC or Bellarmine for that 4th slot. This leaves St. Francis again being favorites in D2 and SI or Valley Christian in D3 winning CCS titles. Bellarmine if left out will win D1 or if SHC left out can win D3.

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