Girls Basketball: St. Ignatius slips past Berkeley in controversial finish

St. Ignatius junior guard Quinci Mann drives through the Berkeley defense on Friday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

St. Ignatius junior guard Quinci Mann drives through the Berkeley defense on Friday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

By Jeremy Balan

The St. Ignatius girls basketball team erased a 10-point halftime deficit to beat visiting Berkeley 62-59 in non-league play on Friday night, but that likely won’t be the lasting impression for anyone that was in attendance.

What will resonate was the finish, which was as controversial as it was hectic.

Only up by two points with 5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, St. Ignatius guard Qunici Mann was fouled and went to the free throw line with an opportunity to put the game away.

The junior hit the first shot, but missed the second and standout Berkeley senior Rachel Howard hauled in her 12th rebound of the game. Howard got the ball to point guard Janamon Welch-Coleman, who rushed up the court and went up for a running 30-foot jump shot at the buzzer. During the attempt, Welch-Coleman was contacted by a St. Ignatius defender and the ball ended up nowhere near the basket. No foul was called and the referees rushed off the court.

St. Ignatius senior guard Crystal Sun puts up the game-winning shot against Berkeley on Friday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

St. Ignatius senior guard Crystal Sun puts up the game-winning shot against Berkeley on Friday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

Berkeley head coach Cheryl Draper was so incensed by the officials’ decision not to call a foul that she berated two of the three officials as she chased them to their locker room. Draper also took issue with the foul totals in the game, as well as a traveling call on Howard while she was under the St. Ignatius basket with 13 seconds left and said after the display that she would be filing a protest of the game.

“Any time officials make the difference in the game and take a game away from a good-played high school game, you need to question the officials. I question their abilities and I question their decisions, and you can quote that,” Draper said. “There was total contact on the last play and they ignored it . . . It was their intention to take this game away.”

The foul totals in the game were identical (14 for each team), but Berkeley (2-3) did have three more fouls that St. Ignatius in the second half.

“I had a problem with the officials in the first half and [Draper] had problems with the officials in the second half,” said St. Ignatius head coach Michael Mulkerrins.

Lost in the muddle of the game’s final moments was a back-and-forth fourth quarter that featured three lead changes and four ties.

Mann, a junior transfer from Piedmont, had eight of her 16 points in the fourth, including a three-pointer with 6:13 remaining to give the Wildcats (6-1) their first lead of the second half at 49-46.

But the Yellowjackets continued to battle back and regained the lead at 57-55 with 2:35 remaining on a steal and layup by junior guard Desire Finnie. The Wildcats then scored four straight points to take back the lead and Finnie tied the game again with another fast-break layup.

Needing a go-ahead score with the shot clock winding down, the Wildcats didn’t look to sophomore forward Brianna Beckman – who finished with a team-high 19 points – or leading scorer Sydney Raggio – who had 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor. Instead, senior guard Crystal Sun found herself alone on the right-hand wing, drove to her left and into the paint, and banked in a running jump shot from 12 feet out to give St. Ignatius the lead for good.

“Because we’re so young, this team is going to have a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes we’re going to look like world-beaters and in other moments, we look like an 8th-grade team,” Mulkerrins said. “[At halftime] I said that the next 16 minutes would say a lot about this team – about its character. They responded in a big way.”

St. Ignatius sophomore forward Brianna Beckman grapples for possession with two Berkeley defenders on Friday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

St. Ignatius sophomore forward Brianna Beckman grapples for possession with two Berkeley defenders on Friday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

The reason for the double-digit halftime deficit was a dominant rebounding performance and a high-pressure Berkeley defense. The Yellowjackets outrebounded the Wildcats 25-12 in the first half and Finnie had four of her game-high eight steals in the second quarter. Howard, a Division I prospect that has six offers from west-coast colleges, also had 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting in the second quarter, but got into foul trouble early in the second half and only had two points after the break. Berkeley outscored St. Ignatius 23-9 in the second quarter.

Without Howard for much of the second half, the offense began to run entirely through Finnie, who had a game-high 24 points, but on 10-of-27 shooting from the floor. In transition, fueled by her constant steals, Finnie was unstoppable, but in half-court sets, the Wildcats found success sagging off the standout junior, forcing her to take jump shots.

“Our goal was to make [Finnie] shoot and not get to the rim,” Mulkerrins said. “When she got to the rim, she finished, but when she was settling for jumpers, she was missing. It took us three quarters for us to figure out the game plan.”

Scoring Summary

St. Ignatius
Brianna Beckman – 19
Quinci Mann – 16
Sydney Raggio – 12
Tyler Brown – 7
Crystal Sun – 4

Desire Finnie – 24
Rachel Howard – 14
Jaimonie Welch-Coleman – 10
Sierra Franklin – 9
Taki Brandon – 2

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  1. JJ says:

    The refs should’ve called a foul on SI on that 30 foot heave, but from personal experience from watching a ton of basketball games, when a player has 3 free throws with the opportunity to tie the game, there is so much pressure that that the FT shooter hardly ever make all 3 free throws. At least give the girl a shot at it. On a side note, too bad SI’s center Josie Little isn’t playing yet.

    • Uncle Frank says:

      My understanding is that Josie Little is still suffering from post-concussion symptoms from a blow this past summer. The league starts January 5th with league favorite Mitty. At some point you have to wonder not WHEN will she be back, but IF she will be back.

  2. Crusader 88 says:

    For what it’s worth I don’t believe that you can’t protest a high school game. Since Berkeley plays across the bay, it’s highly likely that they won’t see this crew together anyway. Sounds like the coach might be in danger of a suspension if she was actually chasing them down to the locker room.

    • WCAL Alum says:

      The irony is that the head assignor for the league (presumably the person she would protest to) was on the floor.

    • Don L. says:


      Here’s what I see as the situation:

      Thanks to the power of the Internet, there ARE some rules regarding protests. Since the game was held at SI, I looked up the WCAL protests (or maybe the CCS):

      Interestingly enough (and not surprisingly), the rules state NO PROTESTS ON JUDGEMENT CALLS!

      On the other hand, the referees will likely report this to either the League Berkeley plays in or the section and a punishment will be handed down by one of the two groups. As the WCAL assignor was working, it actually cuts down the process a bit.

      I would disagree slightly that the Berkeley team won’t see this crew of officials again. Some officials do work multiple groups. Plus, even if the officials don’t work in the East Bay, there’s always the NorCals. Officiating crews get sent all over the place.

      Did the Berkeley coach have the team last year? I know the old coach (Nakamura) had retired and come back. Sounds like an inexperienced coaching mistake to me.

  3. Crusader 88 says:

    You can’t win a protest by saying “They cheated us!”, the only way that one might be possibly heard was if the officials didn’t enforce a rule, or misapplied a rule that had a direct impact on the game. If the official covering the last second shot decided there wasn’t a foul on the play, then they have to live with that.
    I said it was unlikely that Berkeley would see the crew, when I worked for the NCBOA it was rare that I would work the same three person crew more than once in a season.
    Coach Draper took over after Nakamura retired, she was an assistant under him for a few years, she has been around. I officiated a couple their state playoff games and she seemed pretty calm, although the Berkeley fans are pretty intense.

    • Don L. says:

      Crusader 88,

      Hmm – maybe you could re-enlighten me on something then. The CIF state playoff games group “crews” from the same association together these days right? I seem to recall that from an NCBOA meeting a few years ago. In the past, officials were nominated individually and then might be put together with crews from other groups around the state. That resulted in some interesting chemistry issues from what I heard.

      The reason I ask is that I also recall that SOME crews would work together a little more as they were considered candidates for state games. Might as well work on the chemistry during the pre-season and regular season.

      Just curious if you had insight. :)

    • GCJ 01 says:

      You have to love a good debate between two bball officials! I’m actually interested in that protest process. Even if a protest was made, what are the odds of anything actually being done? It’s not like they can go back and change the outcome of the game….or can they?

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