SHC's season comes to an unexpected early end

Sacred Heart Cathedral boys' basketball coach Darrell Barbour didn't have to think too much about why his top-seeded team was upset by Sir Francis Drake in the CIF Northern California Division III quarterfinals at home on Saturday night.

“That kid,” Barbour said, “is good.”

The “kid” the SHC coach was referencing was 6-foot-6 junior center Jesse Hunt, who exploded for 39 points, including 25 in an absolutely dominant second half to lead Drake to a 69-62 victory, ending Sacred Heart Cathedral's up-and-down season on a disappointing note.

Hunt scored 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, helping Drake break open the game late. After Sacred Heart's David Parsons hit a 3-pointer to tie the score at 54-54, Drake closed the game on a 15-6 run, with Hunt helping his teammates handle the ball against a tenacious full-court press from the Fightin' Irish. Hunt also grabbed 11 rebounds in the game.

The Pirates shot a sizzling 71 percent in the second half, making 15 out of 21 shots. They opened the third quarter on a 12-2 run and maintained control of the game from there, never letting the Fightin' Irish increase the tempo and pace to their preference. With the win, Drake will advance to the regional semifinals against Miramonte.

“You know, we had a few turnovers here and there, and we fouled too much,” Barbour said. “But you have to give them credit. They outplayed us tonight.”

Neither SHC nor Drake found much of a rhythm in an uneven first half, with the two teams combining to turn the ball over 20 times in the first 16 minutes. Drake, led by Hunt, went on a 9-0 run spanning the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second to take an 18-13 lead. Hunt scored 14 points in the first half, including a monstrous rebound dunk that put the Pirates up 24-23.

SHC was able to battle back, getting a huge contribution from 6-5 freshman Alfred Hollins, who scored seven points and added an assist over the final three minutes of the second quarter, helping the Irish enter halftime ahead 30-26. Hollins led the Fightin Irish with 15 points off the bench.

The Irish entered the season with high hopes, coming off back-to-back NorCal Division III titles. However, Sacred Heart Cathedral was never able to achieve consistency in a rocky year, bowing out well before many people had predicted for the team.

“It's disappointing to lose period, but it's even worse to lose at home at this time of the year,” said Barbour. “I'm going to miss all my seniors, but especially Liam [O'Reilly] and Deondre [Otis]. They've been with the varsity program for three years and we went to the state title game twice. They definitely made me look good.”

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