St. Ignatius forward Neal Begovich gets back on defense during a game against University on Dec.8, 2018, at St. Ignatius High School. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)

SF Preps Basketball: St. Ignatius finds identity in win over Mitty

IGNATIUS COLLEGE PREP — With a finally-complete starting lineup, and a reliable rotation providing the necessary depth behind the stellar tandem of Neal Begovich and Wrenn Robinson, the St. Ignatius boys’ basketball team finally started to look like a team that’s rounding into form during Saturday night’s 62-51 win over the Mitty Monarchs.

“We’ve seen glimpses of it,” said Wildcats head coach Rob Marcaletti. “Tonight our guys did a phenomenal job of just sticking to the gameplan and really trying to execute.”

As has often been the case this season, Begovich and Robinson both stood out, with Begovich totaling 19 points and 21 rebounds while Robinson scored a game-high 22, but their efforts have often been wasted with a lack of secondary scoring, a deluge of turnovers and prolonged scoring droughts.

That sort of ineffective play had the Wildcats entering WCAL play needing seven wins for a .500 league record and playoff eligibility, and with a loss to Bellarmine on Wednesday and three rivalry games in the space of five nights next week, Saturday would be critical.

After a 12-0 Monarch run tied the game in the third, St. Ignatius (5-7, 1-1) responded with a 15-0 onslaught that covered the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth to take back control.

It started with two points from junior Kourosh Kahn-Adle, who has joined Robinson as a sort of second point guard and brought a calming presence with his ability to control the pace in high-intensity moments. Begovich then scored on back-to-back possessions with a drive and a put-back, and he fed Garrett Cason underneath for another lay-in to give the Wildcats a 38-30 lead.

Cason, who has been working his way back from knee injuries that have plagued him over the past two years, was especially instrumental on Saturday against an undersized Mitty team, and his impact was compounded by the absence of Sam Nangle, who was out sick.

With 12.6 seconds left in the third quarter, Marcaletti called his fourth timeout, a rare move for a team that likes to hang on to them until the end of games for clock management. The gutsy decision paid off instantly as Malcolm McCray-Hill, who had played all of two minutes on the night, found Ross Klein on a designed play from the inbound pass to give St. Ignatius a 10-point lead. Those final seconds of the third quarter would be Klein’s only appearance of the night, and he made it count.

“We can’t sit back and be passive,” Marcaletti said. “Where we are right now, we’ve just got to keep being aggressive and play with that mentality.”

The lead grew to as much as 17 in the fourth quarter on a Robinson 3-pointer, as he scored 12 over the game’s final eight minutes. Mitty (7-5, 1-1) managed to get within seven points in the final minute behind Marcus Greene, who scored 13 of his 17 in the quarter, but the Monarchs would get no closer. Begovich missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but Zach Taylor-Smith swooped in for the offensive rebound and split a pair from the line to push the lead back to eight. It was a 10-point game after two Kahn-Adle free throws, and the final sequences were only for academic purposes.

Begovich had six rebounds in the first quarter alone, more than any Mitty player would finish with on the night. The Wildcats led 17-7 after a period and held a 28-18 halftime advantage.

Devan Sapp also scored 17 for the Monarchs, who shot 9-for-31 on 3-pointers. He had the first six points of the game-tying 12-0 run in the third quarter.

Sacred Heart Cathedral 51, Bellarmine 38: With two Bellarmine starters — including lead scorer Kiran Kruse — out with the flu, the Fightin’ Irish took advantage of the opportunity and got 16 points from Oscar Cheng to beat the Bells for the first time since 2015. Sacred Heart Cathedral (8-4, 1-1) also got 13 points from Elijah Flowers and 10 from Osin McCormack, while Quinn Denker scored 13 for Bellarmine (10-2, 1-1) and Cole Troedson added 11.

Riordan 72, Valley Christian 46: Bryce Monroe scored 25 points, Je’Lani Clark added 15 and the Crusaders had little trouble in San Jose despite going just 3-for-14 from 3-point range and barely shooting over 50 percent at the line. Riordan (9-3, 2-0) got nine points from Chimae Ugbaja and nine from Dominic Wilson, who also collected 10 rebounds. Six-foot-nine center Jay Allen-Tovar finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds for Valley Christian (9-3, 0-2), while Iowa State football commit Skylar Loving-Black scored 11.

Serra 78, St. Francis 70: The Padres opened up a 16-1 lead over St. Francis (9-3, 0-2) and held on late after the hosts cut the deficit to three points with 1:25 left. Serra (10-2, 2-0) got 22 points apiece from Cade Rees and Parker McDonald, with McDonald scoring 14 in the fourth quarter. He made all six of his free throws down the stretch, and the Padres were a perfect 12-of-12 at the line on the day. Matt Larson led the Lancers with 20 points, including 17 in the second half. Fellow reserve Matteo Fontana scored 19 and Roy Yuan added 14, while Serra also got 12 points from Antonio Abeyta and 12 from Cooper Fitz, who lives within walking distance of St. Francis.

Stuart Hall 60, Mills 43: Thirteen 3-pointers made it four straight wins for the Knights, who will host University on Tuesday.

Lick-Wilmerding 49, Berean Christian 46: With Zach Johnson and Allen Wilson out injured, Phin Horowitz rose to the occasion and scored 25 to lead Lick-Wilmerding (14-4) to victory and snap a two-game losing streak.

Washington 69, El Camino 59: The Eagles sank 14 3-pointers and held El Camino scoreless from beyond the arc to pick up the road win.

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