While USA Today pundits took a two-week holiday hiatus from updating the newspaper’s national prep polls, the Sacred Heart Cathedral girls’ basketball team never stopped winning.
And Wednesday, the Irish (13-0, 3-0 West Catholic Athletic League) were finally rewarded for their flawless regular season. Sacred Heart took over the top position in the USA Today Super 25 poll and is believed to be the first team, boys’ or girls’, from The City ever to reach No. 1.
Not that coach Brian Harrigan and the Irish were sitting by their computers refreshing their Web browsers in anticipation of the newest poll.
“It’s great for the school and the community and for San Francisco, but to the credit of the kids, it’s not something we’ve really talked about,” Harrigan said after his team defeated rival St. Ignatius
66-41 Tuesday. “Before this game, we listed the four teams in the WCAL that were 2-0 and SI was one of them. So we thought of it as a big game in the league and that’s really our focus.”
The two-time defending state champion Irish have now won 27 consecutive regular-season league games and are a prohibitive favorite to finish atop the WCAL standings for the fourth year in a row. Led by Pepperdine-bound seniors Lauren Bell and Jazmine Jackson (a two-time Examiner Player of the Year) and junior Division I prospects Ki-Ki Moore and Tierra Rogers, Sacred Heart spent its nonconference season testing itself amongst the nation’s top teams.
The result: three wins over defending state champions in three days at the Nike Northwest Invitational in Beaverton, Ore. — including a 74-58 decision over USA Today’s preseason No. 1, Long Beach Poly for the title. Rogers, a 5-foot-9 forward ranked No. 37 in her class by hoopgurlz.com, was named MVP of the tournament after scoring
27 points in the final.
The Irish then went 3-0 in the White Division at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, beating teams from Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Oregon. And that allowed Sacred Heart to move into the No. 1 spot following Notre Dame Academy of Middleburg, Va.’s 58-54 loss to Poly in the Phoenix event.
“Those trips meant a lot because we got to get out and play some really great teams,” Moore said after last week’s win over Notre Dame of Belmont.
But after Tuesday’s win against SI at USF’s War Memorial Gym in the always-emotional preamble to the Bruce-Mahoney boys’ basketball game, Sacred Heart will not get to rest easy at the top. The Irish travel to up-and-coming Valley Christian (14-1, 2-0 entering Wednesday’s game against Presentation) on Friday night at 7:30 before hosting longtime rival Mitty (8-5, 2-0 prior to Wednesday’s matchup with St. Francis) on Saturday, leaving players little time to contemplate their latest honor.
“We do think about the rankings sometimes,” Moore said. “But we know they don’t mean anything [until the end of the year] and there’s a lot of hard work left to be done.”
USA Today Super 25
No. Team W-L Pvs.
1. Sacred Heart Cathedral 12-0 2
2. Murry Bergtraum (N.Y.) 7-0 3
4. Murrah (Miss.) 15-0 6
5. Long Beach Poly 9-2 4
7. Notre Dame Acad. (Va.) 12-2 1
9. Cy-Fair (Texas) 21-2 11
10. Whitney Young (Ill.) 15-0
11. Centennial (Minn.) 11-0 13
12. DeSoto (Texas) 25-0 17
13. St. Mary’s (Stockton) 15-0 —
14. Prairie (Wash.) 8-3 —
15. Iota (La.) 21-2 9
16. Southridge (Ore.) 8-3 12
17. Buffalo Grove (Ill.) 18-1 15
19. Regis Jesuit (Colo.) 10-1 19
20. Highlands Ranch (Colo.) 8-3 —
21. Eleanor Roosevelt (Md.) 4-0 —
22. Ben Davis (Ind.) 14-1 21
23. Hampton (Va.) 7-2 16
24. Lakota West (Ohio) 12-0 —
Records through Monday