SAN FRANCISCO —
To win back the coveted Bruce-Mahoney trophy, St. Ignatius (San Francisco)
first had to win a football game with Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco)
Then, the Wildcats had to defeat the Irish in Tuesday's hoop affair at jammed pack USF's War Memorial gym.
St. Ignatius took back the crown Tuesday with a decisive 56-46 victory before more than 4,000 fans - and it used a little football attitude to get it done.
All-Metro football selection Albert Waters
led the charge with 12 points, but more importantly he demanded a never-back-down quality that lifted the Wildcats to a largely wire-to-wire victory.
St. Ignatius last trailed 8-6 and scored the last eight points of the first quarter to take command and improved to 11-2 and 2-1 in West Catholic Athletic League play.
Sacred Heart Cathedral, which got 12 points by Herman Pratt
and 10 from Khalil James
, dropped to 9-4 and 2-1.
"Albert brings a football mentality to the squad, no question," St. Ignatius coach Tim Reardon said. "These guys play their butts off no question. They always leave it all on the court. Both sides did."
With the final seconds winding down, Julian Marcu
went in for a breakaway layup to put the final touch. The Wildcats' faithful were looking for a rim-rattling finish, but the 6-foot-1 junior kissed the ball off the glass for an easy layup and fitting finish.
This was a game played below the rim and though
both small, guard-oriented teams competed intently and skillfully, St.
Ignatius was a little tougher, better with the ball and much more
efficient from three-point range.
St. Ignatius connected on 7-for-13 from beyond the college arc (no temporary high school lines were laid down). The Irish were 2-for-16, which proved decisive.
Waters and Matt Brown (11 points) combined for five of those threes, and Marcu and dynamic 5-10 point guard Trevor Dunbar combined for 17 points for the winners.
"It's a hard place to shoot," Reardon said. "I don't know how we made all those threes, but our plans defensively was definitely to let them shoot them."
After Sacred Heart closed to 27-24 early in the third
quarter, Waters drilled a three-pointer, then made a steal, end-to-end
drive and bucket to give his team its first double-digit lead. The
Wildcats didn't trail after falling behind 8-6.
amazing," Waters said of winning the trophy back in front of more than
4,000 fans. "We came into the game talking about getting it back and
being physical. ... We knew we had to be mentally and physically strong
to do well in this place. It's loud and hostile."
Everything but the 3-point shooting was almost dead even.
Sacred Heart Cathedral held and edge in rebounds (35-34) and turnovers (13 to 15 for St. Ignatius). Each team had four blocks, the Irish had one more steal (9-8) and made more free throws (8 to 5). St. Ignatius shot a little better from the field (43 percent to 33 percent), but its accuracy from the 3-point arc was the difference.
The Irish also missed numerous easy buckets inside.