Boys Basketball Top 10: Sacred Heart Cathedral moves to the top

Sacred Heart Cathedral junior guard DeOndre Otis (left) and the Irish are off to fast start in WCAL play. (Photo by Clarivel Fong)

Sacred Heart Cathedral junior guard DeOndre Otis (left) and the Irish are off to fast start in WCAL play. (Photo by Clarivel Fong)

Every week, we will be publishing our take on the top ten boys and girls basketball teams in San Francisco. Feel free to make your own rankings and discuss ours in the comment section.

1. Sacred Heart Cathedral (9-3, last week’s ranking: 2)

The Irish have arguably played the toughest overall schedule in the City, although No. 2 University could be a close second, and it paid off in the first week of West Catholic Athletic League play. Their win on the road in a hostile environment at Serra (10-2) is probably the best win by any City team this season and a tough home win against a Bellarmine (10-2) team that gave two-time defending state champ Mitty all it could ask for was icing on the cake.

2. University (11-4, last week’s ranking: 3)

It’s hard to gauge exactly how the Red Devils would stack up to the City’s WCAL representatives, but what we can quantify is the strength of their non-league schedule. University is battle tested and their four losses are against teams with a combined 42-15 record. With the toughest part of its schedule in the rear-view mirror, University faces a different challenge as the favorite in the Bay Counties League West – a balanced league that relishes any opportunity to upset the Red Devils. Last week, University went 1-1 with a double-digit win over No. 7 Marshall and a close loss to Oakland (9-6).

3. St. Ignatius (10-2, last week’s ranking: 4)

The Wildcats took one big step forward when they defeated last week’s No. 1 team Riordan in their WCAL opener, but took a big step back with a blowout loss to Mitty (8-3), which appeared to be vulnerable after a close win over Bellarmine earlier in the week. That being said, if St. Ignatius beats another No. 1 team in Sacred Heart Cathedral on Tuesday, there’s no doubt where the Wildcats will be in our rankings next week.

4. Riordan (10-2, last week’s ranking: 1)

Even with the sudden drop in our rankings, the Crusaders could very well be back at the top pretty soon if they can solve some chemistry issues with their abundance of talented transfers and the group that got them off to such a solid start. Both games last week – a close road loss to No. 3 St. Ignatius and a absolute rout of Valley Christian (5-7) – could turn out to be inconsequential in the grand scheme of Riordan’s WCAL prospects if the Crusaders live up to their potential this season. We’ll learn a lot more about the new-look Crusaders in their games against Serra and Mitty this week.

5. Stuart Hall (12-3, last week’s ranking: 5)

The Knights haven’t exactly played world-beaters in their seven-game win streak (the teams they’ve beaten during the stretch have a combined record of 25-53), but appear to lead the pack of very competent BCL West teams looking to knock off No. 2 University. Stuart Hall won its only game last week against Oakland Military (5-8).

6. Urban (11-2, last week’s ranking: 6)

The Blues were humbled a bit in a blowout loss to Division V power St. Joseph Notre Dame (9-5) last week, but got back on track with a win over Athenian (10-4) to wrap up their non-league schedule. Urban’s best win is still over No. 9 Lick-Wilmerding in the Head-Royce Holiday Classic two weeks ago.

7. Marshall (4-5, last week’s ranking: 7)

The Phoenix are the top public-school team in our rankings essentially by a process of elimination. No Academic Athletic Association team will enter league play with a .500 record or better and Marshall still seems to be the most talented group. AAA teams went 35-87 in non-league play and it may be Marshall’s year to win its first San Francisco Section boys basketball title in school history.

8. Lincoln (4-11, last week’s ranking: 9)

Lincoln’s performance last week may be an indication the Mustangs have turned things around after a dreadful start to the season. Lincoln’s only game last week was a six-point win over Rodriguez (4-10), which avenged a 13-point loss to the same team in early December.

9. Lick-Wilmerding (10-5, last week’s ranking: 8)

The Tigers’ drop to No. 9 had more to do with their win over Berean Christian (2-14) than their three-point loss to undefeated Bentley (14-0) last week. It may have just been an off night for Lick, but the Eagles largely stayed with the Tigers throughout, just a week after being blown out by No. 8 Lincoln.

10. Mission (3-11, last week’s rakning: 10)

Like Lincoln, the Bears have showed improvement of late, most notably a win over Capuchino (3-6) last week, the same team that beat them in an early-December tournament. Senior point guard Antoine Porter continues to fill up the scoresheet, averaging 21.1 points per game and nearly 40 percent of the Bears’ scoring, but no other Mission player is averaging double digits.

Best of the rest: Balboa (6-10), Lowell (6-9), Gateway (6-2), Galileo (5-7)

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27 Comments

  1. Ari Gold says:

    Hooray!!!!!!

    • Crusader 88 says:

      SHC certainly deserves to be #1 after those impressive league wins. Who has University defeated? I know they have lost to some really good teams, but are they better than SI or Riordan. I guess time will tell.

      • JJ says:

        Time will not tell because University isn’t playing SI, Riordan or SHC this year.

      • jbalan says:

        I agree with your general sentiment. We don’t really know where they stack up compared to the WCAL schools, because they don’t play each other this year (the Riordan-University series was ended, which was disappointing). It would have been nice to see Uni play St. Joseph Notre Dame in their tournament a little while back too. That would have given us a pretty good measuring stick, but it didn’t happen.

      • Just some facts says:

        Gotta agree- can understand University ahead of Riordan or SI and I guess some of us would like a bit more explanation given – more about the schools that they beat and their players and scores and percentages to explain this, please. Seems strange.

  2. SF_Mikey says:

    Great write-up as always Jeremy. I appreciate all the great coverage and it’ll be a great night of City basketball tonight with the Bruce-Mahoney game as well as Riordan hosting Serra. Riordan needs to make a statement tonight against Serra if they want to be viewed as contenders not pretenders in the WCAL.

    The SHC – SI game should be interesting as it’ll be strength vs strength with solid guard play on both sides. I give SHC the slight advantage because they’ve faced better competition, athleticism and inside presence of Pratt, O’Reilly, Parsons and Jackson over SI’s bigs. Both coaching staffs have done an excellent job retooling their squads after losing their best players.

    Good write-up on sfgate about tonight’s game: http://www.sfgate.com/preps/article/St-Ignatius-Sacred-Heart-in-trophy-game-4173688.php

    • JJ says:

      Nice article, but it said O’Reilly is the tallest player at 6-2, isn’t Yanoj the tallest at 6-4? Don’t matter, because it should be a very tight game, but have to give the advantage to SHC as they have more experience in big games, collectively. Their whole backcourt played in the State championship game and O’Reilly learned from the twin towers. Waters has played in 2 Bruce Mahoneys and Dunbar played in 1, so that should help. SI will have to get contributions from their front-court in order to win. The matchup of Marcu vs O’Reilly will be key.

      • SF_Mikey says:

        Last season I am pretty sure that Taylor and Josh were listed at 6’4″. Both mysteriously grew 2″ over the summer as they are both listed at 6’6″ at UCR. Seeing SHC in person last week – O’Reilly looked taller than 6’2″ so I think Coach Barbour either needs to get a new measuring tape :-) or purposely short changes his roster’s height for psychological reason as James, Otis and Pratt all appear to be taller than advertised. Yanoj is also listed at 6’2″ and looks to be of similar height to O’Reilly. I suspect that both are between 6’3 – 6’4″. Marcu on the other hand looks to be only 6’1″……

        I ran into Gilleran (Riordan) around town earlier this afternoon and wished him well in beating down Serra tonight! He smiled and said responded back with thanks! Go Crusaders!

        • jbalan says:

          I agree. O’Reilly is taller than he is listed. Barbour told me when I was putting together the preseason Top 10 that he’s probably close to 6-foot-4. You are also correct about Marcu. He is pretty much eye-to-eye with me and I am 6-foot-1.

        • Sandy says:

          Coach Barbour does list a shorter height for all his players on purpose. His 2009 state championship had Jerry Brown and Kevin Greene at 6’4 which was hilarious as most teams probably assumed they were a small team till they took the court.

        • Chris says:

          Haha, it doesn’t matter what the program says..its how they play! The SH players definitely play bigger than the competition! Last year, Taylor Johns was listed at 6’4 but everyone knows he was not and he played like he was 6’6 and above, same with Fox. Same with O’reilly this year and I am not trying to compare them since they are different players.

        • Ari Gold says:

          Liam & Yanoj are 6’4, not 6’2. I have an inside source on the team that told me during the off-season. But height is not factor that makes SHC a great team. Its chemistry and the fact that on any given night, either James, Otis, O’Reilly, Jackson, Pratt, Parsons, or Davidson can beat you.

          • Chris says:

            Ari, do you know if SHC had another transfer, from mexico or something or was that all a rumor? Or did people get the school wrong since SH could be considered Stuart Hall. Was that kid not cleared to play or ineligible at this time? Thanks

            • Ari Gold says:

              I honestly dont know. I heard prior to the season that we had a transfer coming in but my source when I asked about the team just mentioned how much improved Liam O’Reilly was and how he was going to surprise alot of people this year. Had no mention of the transfer. If there is one, hes definitely not getting the press like the Riordan ones and plus the rosters posted on the school site and Maxpreps doesnt show anyone that is taller than 6’2. I heard he was 6’4 or maybe taller but no such person according to these sites. Maybe it was a myth who knows?

              • Chris says:

                Thank you, Ari!

              • dude says:

                I think the transfer your thinking of is maybe sophomore christian wilburn. He transferred from Lick last year, but i heard he’s on the end of the bench at Sacred Heart. He’s like 6’3 or 6’4.

  3. M Air J says:

    Mr. Balan has it correct again. SHC had 2 quality wins last week, especially against Serra. I was really impressed with that W. Like I said in my earlier post, those kids are scrappy and play hard. See you tonight at the BM game.

  4. SI Sports Radio says:

    It is a 120 year old tradition. The Bruce Mahoney rivalry continues tonight Tues, Jan 8 at a sold out War Memorial Gym at USF. Girls basketball at 550pm and boys basketball at 725pm and both games are live on SI Sports Radio. Listen with your computer, smartphone, iPad, or iPod Touch.

    Click here to listen http:/​/​client.stretchinternet.com/​client/​siprep.portal# or type http://www.siprep.org/sportsradio into your browser.

    You can also listen to the girls & boys Bruce Mahoney games on Irish Sports Radio at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/shcp.portal#

  5. JJ says:

    Looks like there will be a new #1 in San Francisco, baby! Love it. Just like football, proving all the naysayers wrong. I guess SHC really does miss the twin towers, no? SI will be a very good team, but they could struggle vs teams with dominating big men, but who doesn’t. Matt Brown & T. dunbar = co-MVP’s

    • Cat in the Hat says:

      Oh no. There’s no way we could hang with mighty Uni.

      Nice work CATS!!!

    • Chris says:

      Dont worry JJ, lots of basketball left, I surmise SHC will see you again. Also don’t forget SHC spanked SI big time last year. We all missed the twin towers, but I don’t SI will sweep SHC, that is for sure.

  6. EN says:

    Matt Brown. MVP Go cats

  7. Josh Weinstein says:

    There will be a new #1 next week, and it won’t be Alabama. Go Cats! Proving everyone wrong again this season. 11-2 record and a Bruce Mahoney basketball win and an CCS Open Division title in football.

  8. Big guy 24 says:

    Riordan seems to be overrated and since the transfers have come back its gotten worst. If it isn’t broken don’t fix it coach Buckner! The Hernandez kid is a solid player and helped Riordan to a 9wins and 1loss, and now he doesn’t play. Kids are being given playing time without working for it for the crusaders. Kids don’t look happy or positive since the SI game when Buckner messed up his rotation. 1 and 2 and play Mitty tomorrow night and as bad as Riordan is playing it looks like a 1-3 start and their’s no reason for that. Go back to what was working, run an offense to get kids open and the point grd play is awful period(selfish and sloppy). Good luck to all city schools.

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