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SF Preps Basketball Preview: Sacred Heart Cathedral continues playoff run on Thursday

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Sacred Heart Cathedral forward Oisin McCormack boxes out Mitty’s Joseph Vaughn in a Central Coast Section playoff game at Piedmont Hills High School in San Jose on Feb. 16, 2019. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)

Nine City basketball teams are headed to the second round of their respective division NorCal regional playoffs, with all nine slated for games on Thursday night, headlined by a doubleheader scheduled for Kezar Pavilion.

A note: Jewish Community High School had their first-round game on Wednesday night, and will advance to the second round.

Boys:

Division I:

No. 10 Sacred Heart Cathedral upset No. 7 Fresno-Bullard 65-64 in overtime, earns rematch with Branson. After an improbable CCS Open Division crown, the Irish (14-14) upset Fresno-Bullard on the road in overtime and move on to take on No. 2-seed Branson on the road in the NorCal quarterfinals. That game will take place on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the College of Marin.

This season, the Bulls (29-2) held opponents to an average of 38 points per game, and holding opponents to 35 or fewer points in 16 of 31 games. Branson tends to drag other teams into the muck, slow things down and force their opponents to play ugly.

The two teams played earlier this season in the Damian Lillard Tournament at Oakland High School, and it was a 53-35 loss for the Irish, who shot just 11-for-36 on the night and 3-for-10 from beyond the 3-point arc. Cedric Reed Jr., who scored 17 points in Tuesday’s upset, went 0-for-5 from the field against the Bulls back in December. Elijah Flowers picked up nine rebounds in that game, and Oscar Cheng pulled down eight, but no other Sacred Heart Cathedral player had more than two, and the team had four offensive rebounds, total.

Division II:

No. 9 Serra wins 60-53 over No. 8 St. Patrick-St. Vincent, set to face No. 1 seed. St. Patrick-St. Vincent was without 6-foot-10 center Dishon Jackson against the Padres, who got 19 points from Cade Rees in the win. No. 1-seed Stockton-St. Mary’s, though, will have their big gun: 6-foot-7 senior Bryce Johnson.

Averaging a double-double (17.9 ppg, 12.5 rpg), Johnson leads a Rams team that boasts three double-digit scorers, including senior Carson Simi (12.6 ppg, 2.3 apg), junior Jamar Marshall (15.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg).

St. Mary’s — which beat No. 16-seed Carmel 73-56 to advance — is 19-13, but their record doesn’t tell the whole story. The Rams were tested early in the season with games against Hayward-Moreau Catholic (25-7), Bellflower-St. John Bosco (22-9), San Diego-Cathedral Catholic (24-9) and Brentwood-Heritage (18-9), so while their record may not be impressive, they have experience playing at a very high level.

The key for Serra is secondary scoring. If they can’t get it, they become one-dimensional. If any team can limit them, it’s St. Mary’s, which will host the second-round tilt on Thursday at 7 p.m.

Division III:

No. 4 Stuart Hall beats No. 13 San Jose-Leland 60-41, set for rematch with Paly. The Knights coasted to a 60-41 victory over Leland, led by 17 points from sophomore Nigel Burris and 16 from junior Miles Amos. Stuart Hall will now host No. 12-seed Palo Alto — which upset No. 5-seed Sonora, 68-62 — on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Kezar Pavilion. The Vikings (19-9) played the Knights (28-5) in early December, a game in which Amos scored 27 points and went 14-for-16 at the free throw line to secure a 47-42 win. That game saw Spencer O’Brien-Steele sidelined with injury, and Burris play very little in the second half, as he went down with a right ankle injury with 13:33 to go in the game.

Burris, a sophomore, has improved vastly since that game, and has remained healthy. When he’s right, he’s a threat down low, in the mid-range game and beyond the arc. O’Brien-Steele has also stayed healthy since missing four of the first eight games.

The Knights have gone 10-4 at Kezar in the last three seasons, and 5-1 this season alone.

No. 3 University beats No. 14 San Jose-Piedmont Hills 50-31 to set up meeting with No. 11-seed Mountain View. Red Devils guard Max Fried finished with 22 points on Tuesday as he dominated for three quarters before University emptied the bench. The Red Devils will now play host to 24-4 Mountain View, the No. 11 seed, which dispatched No. 6-seed Modesto-Central Catholic 54-48. That game will be played at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Kezar Pavilion.

The Spartans (24-4) are led by senior Sam Tobin, who, in his first 23 games, averaged 19.3 points per game, to go along with 4.6 boards, 2.0 assists and 2.1 steals. Other than the 6-foot-4 swing man, though, no other Mountain View player averaged more than nine points per game during the regular season. The Spartans did spread the ball around, though, averaging 16.5 assists on 22.4 made field goals per game.

Division IV:

No. 8 Mission beats No. 9 Sacramento-West Campus 56-51, set to face No. 1 seed. The Bears got a game-high 19 points and 10 rebounds from guard Ben Knight at Kezar Pavilion on Tuesday, but now, they’ll head on the road to play at No. 1-seed Albany-St. Mary’s at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

The Panthers (25-7) easily got by Enterprise 63-51 on Thursday, and faced several opponents in common with Mission. They beat Washington — the third-place team in the San Francisco Section Division I — 91-54. Mission beat the Eagles 90-86 and 79-63 as part of its now-54-game-long Academic Athletic Association winning streak.

St. Mary’s beat University in the City on Nov. 30, 67-62. The Bears lost to the Red Devils on Dec. 13, 81-64.

Both teams beat Sacred Heart Prep (Mission 66-57 on Nov. 30, St. Mary’s 78-53 on Dec. 13).

Division V:

No. 6 Lincoln beats No. 11 Durham 78-40, head on the road for second round. The Mustangs (22-10) — who finished second in Division I of the San Francisco Section, two games behind Mission — will play at No. 3-seed Lakeport-Clear Lake on Thursday at 7 p.m.

The host Cardinals dispatched No. 14-seed Oakland-McClymonds 61-56 on Tuesday to move to a program-best 27-3

Clear Lake is averaging 66.0 points per game, and 15.5 assists on 24.7 field goals per game this season. Lincoln will have to play a very sound game on offense, because the Cardinals average 10.4 steals per game, and 4.3 blocks, meaning that possessions will become very, very valuable. Clear Lake is led by a pair of juniors in 6-foot-2 guard Darius Ford (14.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.4 apg) and 6-foot-6 forward Jaron Mertle (11.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1/7 spg), while senior guard Rodrigo Lupercio adds 8.3 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game.

Lincoln has an electric freshman point guard in Jordan Aquino, but he’s still learning to play within himself and slow the game down, so the Cardinals’ zone defense and opportunistic ball hawking could frustrate him. The good thing about the zone, at least for the Mustangs, is that they can get hot from the outside, with guards Joseph Fox, a sophomore, and Pajri Samhi, a senior.

 

Girls:

Division III:

No. 7 Lick-Wilmerding beats No. 10 Placer 61-53. The Tigers, led by freshman phenom Annabel Schneiberg and senior Samantha Foong, will play No. 2-seed Oakland High School, which blasted No. 15-seed Santa Clara-Wilcox, 73-38. That game will be played at Oakland (26-5) on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Wildcats are a perfect 11-0 at home this season.

No. 12 Marin Catholic upsets No. 5 Sacred Heart Prep 61-47 to earn date with No. 4-seed Seaside. Marin Catholic, led by 27 points from Miranda Jacobsen, 16 from Erika Stromberg and 14 from Syne Politzer, upended the Gators, and will head on the road to face No. 4-seed Seaside down south. The Spartans beat No. 13-seed Sacrament-West Campus, 63-58 in a tight one on Tuesday night. The game between the Wildcats and Seaside is set for Thursday at 7 p.m.

Division IV:

No. 3 Lowell beats No. 14 Pleasanton-Amador Valley 59-38 The San Francisco Section champion Cardinals (18-8) continued their march after winning the San Francisco Section with a convincing home win over the Dons on Tuesday, and will now host No. 6-seed Piedmont (20-10) at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Lowell beat common opponent Yosemite on Nov. 30 by the score of 54-44, but lost to common opponent Alameda, 62-41 on Dec. 28. Piedmont lost to Yosemite 54-51 on Dec. 8, and split a pair with Alameda, winning the home end 52-44 and dropping the Feb. 8 rematch on the road, 65-62.

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