It’s no mystery that the Sacred Heart Cathedral boys’ basketball team has one of the best frontcourts in the Bay Area, but when the Irish guards played like they did on Monday against city rival St. Ignatius — look out.
Led by 15 points from senior shooting guard Tyler Petroni, the Sacred Heart guards shot the lights out from 3-point range, shooting 47 percent from distance to push the Irish to a 68-46 rout of the visiting Wildcats in West Catholic Athletic League play.
The high shooting percentage is even deceiving, because with mostly substitutes shooting in the fourth quarter, the Irish (19-3, 9-3) only hit 1-of-7 attempts from 3-point range.
“I’ve always felt that when our guards play well, we’re really good, and when they struggle, we’re a good team,” Sacred Heart coach Darrell Barbour said. “It’s good to see a kid like Tyler just relax and play. When he plays like that, that’s what he can do.”
After missing his first shot from the floor in the first quarter, Petroni hit all five of his shots the rest of the way, including four 3-pointers.
“I was just shooting the ball, hoping it would go in,” said Petroni, who has battled cold-shooting spells at times this season. “The team just tells me to keep shooting. We have to keep playing hard to help our bigs out. We can’t put all of the pressure on them.”
Standout senior forwards Taylor Johns and Joshua Fox scored plenty, adding 16 and 11 points, respectively, and combined for 17 rebounds.
The pair led a third-quarter Irish surge that turned a 32-21 halftime lead into a 56-30 margin by the end of the third frame.
The Wildcats (9-12, 3-8) scored just nine points in the third quarter and never challenged again.
SI shot just over 44 percent from the floor in the game, but was outrebounded 33-18 and had 23 turnovers.
“I don’t even know where to start,” St. Ignatius coach Tim Reardon said. “We couldn’t stop them and we couldn’t score. It’s as simple as that. We had some positives our last three games out, but this was our worst effort of the year.”
Both teams have crucial weeks ahead in the stretch run of the WCAL season, with the Wildcats playing four games and Sacred Heart taking on Riordan on Thursday and first-place Mitty on Saturday to wrap up league play.
With three league losses, the Irish still have an outside shot at a regular-season league title.
“People are asking me about Saturday, but Saturday doesn’t mean anything if we don’t do anything Thursday,” Barbour said. “I’m really good at looking at what is in front at me and I’m good at getting my players to understand what is in front of us. And Riordan plays us tougher than everybody, every year. I don’t care what our records are or what the teams look like, they’re the toughest.”
For St. Ignatius, there is almost comfort in getting back on the court immediately on Tuesday against St. Francis, to hopefully have a short memory regarding the lopsided loss to its rival.
“Hopefully we can bounce back, but that’s not a good way to get rolling,” Reardon said. “They’re confident, sometimes to a fault, so now is the right opportunity to use that confidence, but that was a big hit.”
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