Boys Basketball: Hot-shooting SI takes back Bruce-Mahoney trophy with win over SHC

St. Ignatius junior point guard Trevor Dunbar drives past a Sacred Heart Cathedral defender on Tuesday at the University of San Francisco. (Photo by Doug Ko)

St. Ignatius junior point guard Trevor Dunbar drives past a Sacred Heart Cathedral defender on Tuesday at the University of San Francisco. (Photo by Doug Ko)

By Jeremy Balan

The St. Ignatius boys basketball team’s defensive strategy against rival Sacred Heart Cathedral in front of a capacity crowd at the University of San Francisco on Tuesday was simple.

Let the Irish shoot.

The Wildcats sagged off the Sacred Heart guards and let them take open looks on the perimeter, and the strategy worked, allowing St. Ignatius to take back the Bruce-Mahoney trophy with a 56-46 win.

Sacred Heart (9-4, 2-1) shot 2-of-16 overall and 0-of-8 in the first half from three-point range, while the Wildcats (11-2, 2-1) hit 7-of-13 attempts from distance. If not for two second-half three-pointers from Sacred Heart senior point guard Khalil James, the Irish would have missed all of their attempts from beyond the arc.

St. Ignatius senior guard Albert Waters releases a jump shot against Sacred Heart Cathedral on Tuesday at the University of San Francisco. (Photo by Doug Ko)

St. Ignatius senior guard Albert Waters releases a jump shot against Sacred Heart Cathedral on Tuesday at the University of San Francisco. (Photo by Doug Ko)

“We wanted to keep them outside,” said St. Ignatius senior guard Albert Waters, who hit two three-pointers of his own and had a team-high 12 points. “This is a college-level three-point line, so our idea was to keep them out there and let them shoot. If we let them drive, that would give us trouble.”

Waters, also a key part of the Wildcats’ win in the football leg of the Bruce-Mahoney series, added three steals and four rebounds, and was one of three St. Ignatius shooting guards that hit multiple three-pointers, along with seniors Daniel MacLean-Vernic and Matt Brown, who was the only other St. Ignatius player to score in double figures with 11 points.

“It is hard to shoot in this gym,” said St. Ignatius head coach Tim Reardon. “That’s why it’s ridiculous that we made seven threes. The line is back a little bit farther and this backdrop makes it really difficult . . . If we didn’t shoot like that, they’re going to beat us.”

The Irish appeared to be ready for the task early in the game and held a lead until St. Ignatius point guard Trevor Dunbar scored the final six points of the first quarter to give the Wildcats a 14-8 advantage that they would not relinquish.

Dunbar was in control early, but only had two points after that first quarter. He still contributed throughout and had a game-high five assists, but the Wildcats got their scoring from several different sources at key moments.

Waters was the only St. Ignatius player to score in every quarter, but each starter had a moment to shine. Dunbar had his one-man show late in the first quarter, Brown hit back-to-back three-pointers in the final minute of the second, MacLean-Vernic hit two threes in the first half despite battling foul trouble and junior forward Julian Marcu scored seven of his nine total points in the fourth.

While St. Ignatius was getting contributions from multiple sources, the Irish never seemed to settle in after losing their early lead. Sacred Heart senior guard Herman Pratt led the Irish with 12 points, including six in the fourth quarter, but they never got closer than a three-point margin, which came early in the second half.

“It wasn’t about strategy,” said Sacred Heart head coach Darrell Barbour. “I never know how my kids are going to play in this game. We come in here 2-0, playing pretty good. The atmosphere, the culture of this whole thing – it’s just different. You can’t compare it to anything. If you don’t handle that, which we did not, you will not play well.”

Sacred Heart was better at the free-throw line (they were 8-for-10 at the line, while St. Ignatius was 5-for-9), outrebounded the Wildcats (35-34) and committed less turnovers (15-13), but the Irish trailed in the most important statistical category – putting the ball in the basket. The Irish seemed overeager at times on offense and shot just 33 percent from the floor overall and 28 percent in the second half, while St. Ignatius made 52 percent of its shot attempts after the halftime break.

“We played with no poise, we played with no discipline and that is my fault, because that is something that my teams do,” Barbour said. “I thought we played hard, but the poise and discipline was nowhere to be seen tonight. That’s disappointing for me, because that’s something I try to hang my hat on as a coach.”

Scoring Leaders

St. Ignatius
Albert Waters – 12
Matt Brown – 11
Julian Marcu – 9
Trevor Dunbar – 8
Two players tied with six points

Sacred Heart Cathedral
Herman Pratt – 12
Khalil James – 10
Liam O’Reilly – 8
DeOndre Otis – 5
David Parsons – 5

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24 Comments

  1. SI WILDCAT says:

    Great all around TEAM effort by SI. Each player made a significant contribution.
    Their shooting and defense really won this game. Lets hope the momentum carries over into the rest of this season.
    They just need to have a more concerted effort on the glass. They are a smaller team, so each player on the floor needs to make it a point to help rebound. Rebounding margin will be key in the WCAL.
    Don’t force shots! When your team is shooting as well as you did last night, then you dont need to force anything, especially when double teamed. Drive and kick! Trust your teammates.
    Matt Brown was player of the game. His shooting (3-4 from 3) and his defense was stellar. He is certainly a work horse playing all 32 minutes.
    Not one of the eight players, who played, played poorly. Keep it up Cats! Back to work today!

    • @SA says:

      SI is certainly more fun to watch this year and seems to be taking advantage of the speed of Trevor and Waters. Size and rebounding will be a problem against the taller teams in the league if they don’t run. For what it’s worth, you mentioned drive and kick and trusting your teammates, but at the start of the game Brown was blocked 4 times when tried to force inside shots instead of kicking it out.

  2. WCAL Alum says:

    Coach Barbour hit it on the head (aka like an SI shot beyond the arc)- SHC boys played with little poise. Despite the discrepancy on 3′s, SH guards were not in control most of night on offensive end. What was apparent there was not a go-to guy for Irish; and very few high percentage shots.

    As is customary(sp) in most SI victories in this game, a role playing guard has game of his life. In this case two: Brown and McClean-Vernic. while Watters and Dumbars stabilized tempo.

    Much like Riordan/SI game, SI started strong and held on tough at the end.

    Congrats to Cats on victory..

    • bigAl says:

      Vernic did not have the game of his life whatsoever. 6 points is a low for him. If anything SHC is lucky he was in foul trouble or he would have been much more effective

  3. New commenter says:

    Surprising to see SI knock off Riordan and SH in the first round of WCAL play. Congrats to the hard-working kids! Would it be too bold to contend that SI is the best WCAL city team?

    Despite their lack of size and raw athleticism, the Cats play as a true team with players knowing their roles and battling with tough hard-nosed defense. That’s a winning formula if you ask me, and I believe SI is definitely the best WCAL team in the city.

  4. Uncle Frank says:

    SH seemed so limited offensively. I like Pratt and James, but I’d let the rest of those guys handle the ball and shoot at will. I think these teams are more closely matched than the score indicated. SI isn’t going to shoot threes like that in most games. SI’s only consistent three point shooter is DMV. Dunbar once again a couple of “wow” plays, but also a couple where he tried to do too much and threw it away. Good win for SI. Still not sure they are anything more than a middle of the WCAL pack team though.

    • BBALL FANATIC says:

      1st of all, DMV is not the only consistent three point shooter on SI’s team, being that Matt Brown shoots a higher%…..Secondly, those “wow” plays are what separates Dunbar from the rest of pg’s in this league. I kinda like a guard that takes chances and is successful most of the time. If you bet BIG, you win BiG, which is why he had no problem pushing the ball through 94ft of pressure last night; The kids a crowd pleaser…and lastly, all the haters and naysayers like yourself had SI placed somewhere near the bottom at the start, so with you thinking they aren’t nothing more than a middle of the pack team is an uprgrade….

      • SI-Alum says:

        “DMV” was the most consistent 3 point shooter in the preseason along with trevor. Teams have figured that out and have adjusted. While brown is shooting well, especially last night, he is not the other teams main concern in defending the 3.

      • Uncle Frank says:

        1. I don’t watch stats. I watch games. DMV is their shooter not Matt Brown.

        BTW: shooting percentage isn’t the best indicator. If I have only taken 2 3 pointers and hit one, then I’m shooting 50%. You may have taken 40 and hit 18. That’s an unbelievable 3 point shooting percent of 47%, but still worse than mine.

        2. I am not a hater. Stupid comment. You should read my past comments on this website. I am a long time SI fan and alum. I attend a dozen or so games a year, both boys and girls. I did not have them placed near the bottom. You must have me confused with someone else.

        Or, in the alternative, it may be that you are just so small-minded and limited in your own ability to be objective that you view any fan who renders a reasoned opinion that suggests the Cats have some weaknesses that may limit their potential to go undefeated the rest of the way is a hater and naysayer.

        • SI Wildcat says:

          Vernic and Brown are both good shooters and although you are correct in that percentages are hard to base good shooting off of due to small sample size, both Vernic and Brown have both shot enough 3′s, even though there shouldn’t even be a comparison because they are both solid shooters…. And keep in mind they are in high school, so try to reserve judgment. This should be for supportive fans. Sounds like you need to find a new hobby outside of high school basketball.

          • Uncle Frank says:

            I didn’t say Matt Brown wasn’t a good shooter. In fact, the only judgment I made on this issue was saying DMV was their only consistent three point shooter. DMV is the one guy an opposing coach would say “stay with him. Don’t help.” There is usually one guy on every team you say that about and DMV is that guy for SI.

            In fact, I didn’t mention MB at all until someone else made some comment about him and took great offense that I insulted MB by singling out DMV. However, my comment would imply also that I have made judgements on Vollert, Dunbar, Marcu and Waters.

            Each player brings different gifts to the table and it is not an insult to praise one of his teammates. For example: Are you saying that pointing out that DMV shoots 3′s better than Marcu is so hurtful and harmfully judgmental that I should take up another hobby? Get a grip. Or is it only Matt Brown that is off limits for you? Is it okay that I point out that Dunbar handles the ball better than Brown and DMV and Marcu and Waters, and practically everyone else in the state, a problem with you also? Is pointing out that MB is a better defender than DMV also a problem?

            • SI Wildcat says:

              I honestly just think you need to find other things to do with your time. I hope you at least have a son or brother on the team…. Otherwise it’s very sad, to not only frequent so many games, but more so that you have the free time to comment on this website as well.
              I take offense when you insult any teenager… Which you clearly just did.
              This was my first time on the site and I regret it instantly because of people like you… Probably never played an organized sport past 8th grade, so you’re living vicariously through high school kids now.

          • wcalsf says:

            You only have to g back to the Mitty game when the ‘Cats only scored 2 pts int he 1st qtr that you cannot rely on 3pt shooting every night in the WCAL. 2nd half of season will separate the the contenders and pretenders.

        • BBALL FANATIC says:

          Watching stats just might allow you to have your facts in order…Thanks for taking me back 30years with the(unneeded)refresher %lesson. I ‘have’ read some of your past comments, and with that backwards “congrats SI” comment you posted, its not clear which way your headed. Its one thing to be objective in regards to your team, but i didn’t hear a peep about where you thought the team SI just beat, would be standing in the end…I mentioned two groups of people; the HATERS(those that would hate for said team to succeed),and the NAYSAYERS(those that don’t believe that said team can accomplish their goal)….i mentioned you after the naysayers, but you tell me your not a hater??? Whatever group you fall in is your choice, but just know that being an SI alum, doesn’t automatically mean your on board the SI boat…

          • Uncle Frank says:

            1. You appear to be very informed. What’s SI’s goal that I apparently don’t believe they can achieve? State, Norcal, CCS, WCAL, playoffs? I really don’t know. I talked to many of their athletic department personnel and no one ever told me. If I am going to be accused of not believing they can reach their goal, then my accuser should deign to share with me what that goal is. It’s just due process.

            2. I am a fan, which means I root for SI to play well and to win. That doesn’t mean I have to put on blinders, throw out all objectivity and believe SI will beat Mitty, Serra and/or never lose another game. I would be thrilled if that were the case, but since I don’t believe that will happen, thenI guess you call be a NAYSAYER and NOT ON BOARD THE SI BOAT. “On board the SI boat.” Classic.

            3. Why, O, why would offering an opinion on where the other teams SI plays will finish take me out of your NAYSAYER category? I am no SH fan (Sorry, Ari) so it doesn’t really interest me. Beside, it makes no logical sense whatsoever that to considered not an SI naysayer that I must provide negative opinions on their opponents future (I think that was a sentence with an implied triple negative). But if this is what you want: I think SH will also be a middle of the pack team just like SI. Is that good enough to take me out of your SI NAYSAYER category? Jeez. Like dealing with a 10 year old.

            4. I can help you with your math skills at anytime. Some people tell me I am quite good at it. However,I suspect it is the logical reasoning portion of the test that will prove quite challenging for you.

            Can’t quite get over the “NOT ON THE SI BOAT” line. Even when I went to SI, we never heard such a line from the biggest weenie red-hots. Congrats!

            • Ari Gold says:

              Uncle Frank, the rationale Wildcat. Gotta love him.

              SI boat? Oh you mean that rowboat they use in crew? Who are the rowers? JJ? BBALL FANATIC? or Jeremy Balan?

            • BBALL FANATIC says:

              I know your type: your a “double agent” who wants to be considered an SI fan, but doesnt want to bet big or go all in with them, (ala 49er/Raider fans), so that when they dont beat Mitty or Serra, you can say “i told you all the flaws in my ‘objective’ post would catch up to them” ….TRUE SI fans already appear to be out numbered by the diehard SH fans@times on this board, and now we have to deal with a DoubleAgent that deals with 10year olds LOL…teaching 4th grade cant be that bad… Just because the jigs up, doesn’t mean you have to go on a full page rant to justify your quotes and actions; really we OVERstand…. i think they might have 1more position left @ SI radio for an aspiring analyst…never-mind, you dont watch stats………………………… now if you’ll excuse me, i have to put my red/blue SI face on and get down to Mountain View…GO WILDCATS!

              • Uncle Frank says:

                Why don’t you take the SI BOAT down to Mountain View?

                While you’re down there, if you want to see a dynamite team, check out Saint Francis’s freshmen A team. I watched them just dominate at the Riordan freshmen tourney. They have height, shoot threes, basketball smarts and one kid with that was an amazing combination of skills and just freaky athleticism. A regular one man press. Teams couldn’t get into their offense when they put him at the top of their half court zone. Didn’t get his name, but I’ll check the website. The impressive part is that they would have won this tournament even without him and it was a strong field as the tourney had SI, Riordan, Serra, O’Dowd and De La Salle.

  5. Ari Gold says:

    It looked early that SH was going to establish getting the ball inside the paint for shorter shots. They felt trapped after falling behind to hit the outside shot. Since USF wont lay out the high school 3 pt line for one night, my suggestion for future years would be to tell the players to not shoot any 3s period and just shoot 18 feet and in.

    SH played uncharacteristically last night. The bottom line is SI made shots and controlled the flow of the game. The men didnt impose their style like the women did.

    Kevin Greene was a guest on the Irish broadcast. I was hoping he’d put on his #45 jersey and play and abuse SI.

    Lastly, this senior class from SI has winners all over. Ultra talented and deep senior class. Outside of Pratt and James, I can really name any seniors on SH that are on SI senior class level.

  6. SF_Mikey says:

    It’ll be a good test for SI tonight over at St Francis tonight. It’ll be St Francis’ length vs SI’s quickness. No doubt TD10 and AW22 will give SF fits so it’ll be interesting to see how SI counters St Francis’ length / inside presence. I would expect for SI to win.

    Aaron Gordon is making his final pilgramage to the Forum tonight – hopefully it’ll be a close, exciting game…….

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