The St. Ignatius boys basketball team settled its season series with rival Sacred Heart Cathedral and won a section championship in the process, defeating the Fightin’ Irish on Saturday 70-66 in the CCS Division III Championship.
Freshman point guard King-Jhsanni Wilhite scored a game-high 27 points and scored the go-ahead basket three minutes into the fourth off a screen-and-roll, capping off a string of seven lead changes in four minutes. The Wildcats would go on to lead by as much as five before SHC had one last inspired charge, with 3-pointers by Kori McCoy and Miles Jones to get within one. From there, it was up to the SI big men to put the game away, with Ethan Jew (nine points) knocking down two free throws and Malcolm McCray-Hill (10 points, eight rebounds) draining one with 3.4 seconds left to ice the game.
McCoy did all he could to keep SHC in it, with 26 points and an unbelievable seven 3-pointers, but Wilhite’s monster performance and 14 points from sophomore GC Toledo Rivera helped the Wildcats ensure things wouldn’t get out of reach. Toledo Rivera hit a trio of threes in the third quarter to help dig the Wildcats out of a 12-point hole, with the last one giving his team a 45-44 lead before the teams went back and forth over the next few minutes. Ray-John Spears had 19 in defeat, with 12 coming in the first quarter before Kourosh Kahn-Adle, one of the seniors on an otherwise young SI team, slowed him down on defense.
“It feels so good,” Kahn-Adle said of the section championship. “We’ve worked so hard to get where we are today.”
Both teams prolonged their seasons with victories in the first round of the CIF Division III State Tournament on Tuesday. Wilhite scored another 18 and Kahn-Adle added 13 as St. Ignatius (12-16) held off 15th-seeded Bullard-Fresno, 52-50, while Sacred Heart Cathedral (12-16) got 20 from Darnay McPherson to win a crosstown battle with Lowell, 62-57. The Cardinals saw their season come to an end four days after upsetting Lincoln to win the City championship, getting 28 points from Cal Ladine and 18 from Rishi Raghavan in the losing effort.
Danny Ryan chooses USC: After a phenomenal senior season in which he broke the West Catholic Athletic League’s record for receptions, St. Ignatius wide receiver Danny Ryan has accepted a preferred walk-on offer to continue his career at USC.
Of his 86 receptions, 57 came in seven league games, shattering the prior record of 46, a mark which was held by Mitty’s Mitch Haniger, who is currently enjoying a successful baseball career with the Seattle Mariners, making the MLB All-Star Game in 2018. Ryan had 1,216 yards over his 12 games, including 643 in league play. His best statistical performance of the year came in a win over Bellarmine, where he hauled in three touchdowns as part of an 11-catch, 147-yard performance. He also had both touchdown receptions in a memorable 14-13 win over Serra to beat the Padres for the first time since 2005 and clinch a share of the WCAL crown for the first time since 2006.
“I’m super excited to compete with some of the best wide receivers in the country and show people what I can do,” said Ryan, who’s currently playing as a defenseman on SI’s lacrosse team. “I would like to thank coach John Regalia, coach Mike Clark and coach Gustavo Manzanares. I couldn’t have gotten this opportunity without them. I also want to thank my teammates, and most of all, my family.”
Pair of thrillers at Kezar: For all the great basketball played across San Francisco in the first round of the CIF State Tournament on Tuesday night, it would be hard to find a better pair of games than the two Division IV matchups played at Kezar Pavilion, where Stuart Hall and University both prolonged their seasons with comeback wins.
Trailing by 13 early in the fourth, the top-seeded Knights got a 3-pointer at the buzzer from Jackson Jung, a JV callup who had already made a name for himself by starting at point guard in Stuart Hall’s BCL West Tournament Championship victory, to beat Santa Cruz 55-54. In the nightcap, third-seeded University overcame foul trouble and a 13-point second quarter deficit to top Oakland in overtime, 60-55. Raki Cabrera-Scarlata scored six of his 11 points in overtime to pick up the slack as both point guard Christian Heng (12 points) and Ren Zanze (11) fouled out. Those three were joined in double-figures by Charlie Kennedy, who added 11.
Both Stuart Hall (25-7) and University (23-8) will be hosting games at Kezar again on Thursday. The Red Devils will get things started at 5:30 against Golden Valley-Merced, while the Knights will face Brookside Christian-Stockton at 7:30.
Not your ordinary 16 seed: When CIF State Tournament brackets were released on Sunday, one of the most surprising placements was that of the Lick-Wilmerding girls, who were given a 16 seed in Division III. Faced with a trip to Menlo-Atherton, taking on a Bears team they had already beaten in the regular season, the Tigers doubled down with a 46-43 overtime victory to prolong their season.
“We don’t think we’re a 16 seed, but it made us work harder,” said Dominique Cabading, who had 19 points and nine rebounds, scoring the go-ahead basket on a drive to the hoop with a minute remaining. She also hit two free throws with 21.6 seconds left, and M-A couldn’t even get a shot off at the buzzer as the Tigers celebrated.
Lick-Wilmerding (29-2) will be back on the road Thursday, traveling to eighth-seeded Aptos (26-4).
Smith goes down swinging: Two late free throws gave Hillsdale a 78-77 win over Urban in double overtime in the first round of the CIF Division IV Tournament, but Bryce Smith did all he could, willing the Blues back from a 19-point deficit and scoring an unreal 53 points.