Girls Basketball: Sacred Heart Cathedral completes WCAL sweep of St. Ignatius

Sacred Heart Cathedral senior Briannah Smith drives into the teeth of the St. Ignatius defense on Tuesday at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

Sacred Heart Cathedral senior Briannah Smith drives into the teeth of the St. Ignatius defense on Tuesday at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

By Jeremy Balan

For the first time in a long time, Sacred Heart Cathedral definitively has a better girls basketball team than St. Ignatius.

With a 51-48 home win over their crosstown rivals on Tuesday, the Irish completed a sweep of St. Ignatius in West Catholic Athletic League play for the first time since 2009.

With the win, Sacred Heart (16-4, 8-1) also remains tied for first place in the league with defending Division II state champion Mitty.

“We’re not satisfied and I don’t want to relax,” said Sacred Heart head coach LyRyan Russell. “It’s one thing to get to the top, but it’s another thing to stay at the top. Our girls are working hard and battling, and we’re trying to earn our respect that way.”

Sacred Heart Cathedral junior guard Kairee Howard (right) tries to beat St. Ignatius sophomore guard Addi Walters to a loose ball on Tuesday at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

Sacred Heart Cathedral junior guard Kairee Howard (right) tries to beat St. Ignatius sophomore guard Addi Walters to a loose ball on Tuesday at Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

The Irish shot just 28 percent from the floor, but applied constant defensive pressure on the Wildcats (14-6, 4-4) throughout and had a dominant performance on the offensive glass.

Sacred Heart took in 17 offensive rebounds, led by five from 6-foot sophomore center Ashanti Coleman and forced 18 turnovers. Coleman also had four blocks, guards Briannah Smith and Kairee Howard menaced the St. Ignatius perimeter and senior forward Ashley Gainer took three charges.

Smith had a game-high 13 points and five rebounds, and standout junior guard GeAnna Summers-Luaulu added 12, despite being in foul trouble throughout.

“We have a very deep team and every girl played tonight,” Russell said. “That wears teams down.”

After trailing 30-20 at the half and 39-30 after the third quarter, however, the Wildcats appeared to figure out the Irish pressure. St. Ignatius beat the full-court press easily in the fourth quarter, feasted on transition baskets and cut the Irish lead to 46-43 with 1:53 remaining.

“We figured out their press weeks ago, but I don’t know why, in games, it takes us two and a half, three quarters to figure it out,” said St. Ignatius head coach Michael Mulkerrins. “It’s frustrating . . . That’s a winnable game if we come out and do what we’re supposed to do.”

The Irish even missed two crucial front-end, one-and-one free throws in the final two minutes, but followed them up with offensive rebounds each time.

“That’s why I have a bald head. I don’t want any gray hairs showing,” Russell said of Sacred Heart’s missed free throws late. “It’s part of the game and even though we missed free throws, the girls battled to get the offensive rebounds. That’s the kind of team we have. The effort is there.”

The Wildcats shot 37 percent from the field, but took 10 fewer shots from the floor than the Irish and nine fewer free throws, mainly from Sacred Heart’s offensive rebounding. No St. Ignatius player scored in double figures, but four players — Tatiana Ranis, Sydney Raggio, Janessa Manzano and Quinci Mann — were tied for the team lead with seven points.

“They played hard, they wanted it more than we did and they executed better than we did. Those are the facts,” Mulkerrins said. “Sacred Heart wanted it more than we did — bottom line. We have great kids and they work extremely hard, but on the court they’re looking for someone else to step up . . . We’re in the middle of the pack [in the WCAL] because we deserve to be. We’re exactly where we should be.”

Scoring Leaders

Sacred Heart Cathedral
Briannah Smith – 13
GeAnna Summers-Luaulu – 12
Ashley Gainer – 7
Jerrieza Enriquez – 7
Kairee Howard – 5

St. Ignatius
Quinci Mann – 7
Janessa Manzano – 7
Sydney Raggio – 7
Tatiana Ranis – 7
Tyler Brown – 6

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8 Comments

  1. Ruckjames says:

    Just an observation SI’s defense was better the previous years than this year!!

  2. Josh Weinstein says:

    Is it because SI right now is not playing with 2012 WCAL Player of the Year Maria Kemiji McDonald and All WCAL players Kaitlyn Crawley and center Josie Little? All three started last year for SI and all three played tenacious defense. Maybe Ruckjames you should know the players beforehand to back up your generalized opinion about SI’s defense.

    • JJ says:

      Last years SI girls basketball team is almost totally different from this years squad. Like you mentioned, SI was led by the 3-headed monster of McDonald, Crawley, and Little. This year, none of those players have played due to graduation and injury. I believe Courtney Gong was the starting point guard, also gone to graduation, so that leaves Raggio as the only starter from last years team? Beckman came off the bench, so that’s basically only 2 players from last years team who got significant minutes. Crystal Sun, Marquez, Tatiana, etc….RARELY played, so this years team is basically like the Miami Heat but without Lebron, Wade, and Bosh.

      • BBall Fan says:

        How do you know who rarely played last season and the circumstances? Your Miami Heat reference is as dumb as your post. Is that a backhand complement to say they aren’t as good as last year? That’s clear, but whats also clear is that they haven’t even begun to get their teamwork together. Its a long season and a lot of things can happen. When they start to believe in themselves and each other, they will be a better team.

  3. Sly Stone says:

    True, they are missing some key players this years but the coach has a questionable substitution pattern. He seems to be big on making sure everyone plays a lot of minutes. There is some youth on the team but 3-4 starters are returning players and should get the bulk of the minutes. The coach goes deep into the bench early and often with seemingly no reason. How can the core of the team develop any chemistry when they’re only on the floor together for little more than a quarter every game?

  4. DukeSF23 says:

    The S.I. coach is a joke. Blame the kids and never take responsibility? It’s no accident that he is 0-6 in CCS championships, the accident would be if he was 1-5!!!!!!!

  5. Mr. Oaktown says:

    According to article, SHC had 17 offensive rebounds. By my count, they had 24. SHC has guards that stand 5’5″ that repeatedly got multiple offensive rebounds. Lack of rebounding—due to the fact that SI girls apparently don’t understand how (or don’t care enough) to box out—has killed SI all year. In addition, SHC grabbed just about every single loose (50-50) ball all night. This SI team simply lacks the desire and toughness to win…they have enough talent to beat anyone in WCAL.

    Of course, SI could do a better job (as Coach Mulkerrins indicates) of “executing”. But what’s really missing here is heart. Until they learn to play with heart, they’ll continue to be a mediocre WCAL team.

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