By Jeremy Balan
It’s safe to say the Sacred Heart Cathedral boys basketball team’s first quarter against Bellarmine on Saturday was the low point of its season.
The Irish trailed 32-3 after the opening quarter against the Bells, en route to their third straight West Catholic Athletic League loss, but more importantly, lost their confidence.
It may not be all back, but the Irish got a boost to that confidence on Wednesday by defeating rival St. Ignatius 59-51 on the road.
“Last week knocked us on our heels, and we’re trying to find ourselves again and that’s not easy,” said Sacred Heart head coach Darrell Barbour. “Before the season, people didn’t think we were going to be any good and we had a chip on our shoulder. We forgot how we got to 5-2 [in WCAL play]. We lost the chip on our shoulder. We lost that hunger to prove to people that we are good.”
The Irish (13-7, 6-4) were led by the consistent play of junior forward Liam O’Reilly, who was the only Sacred Heart player to score in each quarter and finished with a team-high 13 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Senior guard Herman Pratt was the only other Irish player to score in double figures, but was scoreless and didn’t take a shot from the field in the first half. After the break, however, Pratt scored 10 points and helped extend a five-point halftime Irish lead to 43-31 early in the fourth.
“On one particular play in the first half, he was on the block and he didn’t look to score,” Barbour said of Pratt. “At halftime, I told him he needed to be aggressive.”
Pratt’s second-half points were crucial, but it was the combined effort of Sacred Heart’s perimeter defenders that may have been the difference.
Through three quarters, the Irish held the St. Ignatius guards to 2-of-19 shooting from the floor and the Wildcats (13-7, 4-6) struggled to navigate through Sacred Heart’s man-to-man help defense.
“They have the best perimeter defenders in the league, but at the same time, you can get them if you’re patient and you pick your times to drive,” said St. Ignatius head coach Tim Reardon. “Once we got the ball moving in the second half, we were able to do what we wanted to do.”
While the St. Ignatius guards struggled to score, the Wildcats got almost all of their offense from forwards Julian Marcu and Andrew Vollert. Marcu had a game-high 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Vollert had 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting from the floor.
Six of Marcu’s points came in the fourth quarter, when everything started to come together for St. Ignatius. With standout junior point guard Trevor Dunbar in command of the offense, the Wildcats went on an 8-0 run to cut the Irish lead to 49-46 with 2:07 remaining.
Dunbar had three of his game-high six assists in the fourth quarter, but the St. Ignatius comeback hopes were dashed on the next possession, when Sacred Heart junior guard Evan Davison drained a three-pointer on an assist from point guard Khalil James. The Wildcats never got the deficit back down to a single possession the rest of the way.
“I don’t think we played horrible, but in this league, we have to play a good game to win,” Reardon said. “If we don’t play a good game, we lose.”
Sacred Heart Cathedral
Liam O’Relly – 13
Herman Pratt – 10
Evan Davison – 9
David Parsons – 9
Two players tied with 5 points
Julian Marcu – 17
Andrew Vollert – 10
Tristan Wentworth – 8
Trevor Dunbar – 6
Albert Waters – 5