SANTA CLARA — St. Ignatius boys' basketball coach Tim Reardon could watch the film of his team's fourth matchup of the season against West Catholic Athletic League foe St. Francis numerous times and he still won't know how his team won.
Who could blame him?
The Wildcats shot just 33 percent from the field, 50 percent from the free-throw line and were 4-of-20 from 3-point range.
Despite their offensive struggles, St. Ignatius survived in the Central Coast Section Division II championship to pull off a 42-41 win against St. Francis on Saturday night in a grueling affair at the Leavey Center on the campus of Santa Clara University.
After leading 2-0 in the first quarter, the Wildcats (22-6) trailed the Lancers (17-13) until Tristan Wentworth's breakaway layup with 1:42 left in regulation, which was the last made basket of the game.
With 3.9 seconds left in the game, St. Francis had a chance to win, but after using a timeout to set up a potential game-winning play, Lancers forward Alex Frazier was called for traveling on the baseline.
A three-quarter court desperate heave by Lancers guard Noah Stapes fell short at the buzzer, sending the Wildcats into jubilation.
“The last three games we have shot so poorly from the field, but our defense stepped up there. I'll have to watch the film to figure out how the heck we won that one,” Reardon said. “We lucked out that [Frazier] walked, but I couldn't tell [if he did].”
St. Ignatius senior point guard Trevor Dunbar led the Wildcats with 14 points, six assists, five rebounds and three steals.
St. Ignatius 6-foot-7 sophomore Arash Poorsina came up big for the 'Cats, coming off the bench to contribute 10 points and six rebounds. Poorsina converted a few of Dunbar's slick passes, turning one of Dunbar's assist into a three-point play with 2:22 left in the third that brought St. Ignatius within three, 28-25.
Afterward, Dunbar linked some of the Wildcats' sluggish play to the setting of the game.
“It was kinda weird because there was no music played during [pre-game] warmups, and it wasn't as big of a crowd, so our energy was low, and they [jumped] out on us,” Dunbar said. “All throughout the game, we just kept chipping away to try to get the lead back.”
St. Francis — which beat St. Ignatius in the teams' last meeting 62-58 Feb. 18 in the WCAL playoffs — had an answer for every Wildcats run. The Lancers led by as many as 10 in the first half at 19-9 before SI rallied with a 9-0 run going into the half.
St. Francis led 35-28 early in the fourth quarter on a Brian Garrett jumper. As a team, the Lancers shot 43 percent, but they only got to the free-throw line four times in the game, and went scoreless over the last four minutes of the game.
However, St. Francis couldn't capture its second consecutive win against St. Ignatius after Frazier was called for traveling.
Lancers coach Mike Motil looked a bit disgusted about the traveling call, but after the game didn't elaborate on his thoughts of the call.
“I didn't see it, and I trust the [referees] made the right call,” Motil said. “It's been a struggle at times all year for us, creating our own shot, and we also didn't get to the free-throw line as well.”
Both teams qualify for the CIF state playoffs and will find out their opponent when the brackets are released Sunday.