If the Serra basketball team needed a reminder that nothing is given in the West Catholic Athletic League, the Padres received one from Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Serra's Henry Caruso drives to the basket during the Padres' 58-52 loss to Sacred Heart
Cathedral in the WCAL opener Wednesday. Caruso scored a game-high 16 points.
The Irish scored the game’s first six points and never looked back as they beat the Padres 58-52 in the WCAL opener for both teams Wednesday night in San Mateo.
"It’s a tough league if you’re not ready to go and we weren’t ready to go,” said Serra coach Chuck Rapp. "This league is brutal.”
After a preseason during which Serra went 9-1, the Padres played like they still had a residual hangover from New Year’s Eve. They managed just 17 points in the first half and yet they only trailed by four at the break, 21-17. In the second half, Serra could not consistently get stops defensively and while the Padres did whittle an 11-point, third-quarter deficit to one point, 34-33, they could never get over the hump.
The Padres never led in the game.
In the first half, Serra struggled to get the ball inside to forward Henry Caruso. When Caruso did get the ball in the post, Sacred Heart Cathedral collapsed two and three defenders on him. Caruso did manage to score a game-high 16 points to go along with 15 rebounds, but nothing came easy for Caruso.
"They loaded up on him and we didn’t adjust very well,” Rapp said. "If they’re going to load up on him, we have to have other guys step up.”
Serra (0-1 WCAL, 9-2 overall) opened the game with a 4:29 scoring drought. SHC (1-0, 10-1) wasn’t much better, scoring just six points during that span. A turnaround, fade-away jumper from Matt Jajeh finally got the Padres on the scoreboard and when Jacqui Biggins drained a 3-pointer with two seconds left in the first quarter, the Padres tied the score at 8 going into the second quarter.
During the second eight minutes, the Padres cold shooting continued as they managed just three field goals and had just six field goals in the opening half.
Lucky to be in the game, it wasn’t the Padres who came out in the second half with something to prove, but the Irish. SHC scored the first six points of the third quarter to take a 27-17 lead with 5:52 left in the quarter. The Irish eventually pushed their advantage to 34-23 before the Padres finally showed some signs of life. Two free throws by Caruso ignited a 10-0 run as Serra cut its deficit to one, 34-33. After the free throws, Biggins came up with a steal and was fouled as he hit a running layup. He missed the ensuing free throw. Jeramey Fields then scored a layup in transition and Biggins hit a jumper. Caruso capped the run with a layup but missed the free throw and the Padres trailed by just one with 1:39 left in the quarter.
But the Irish kept their composure and ended the quarter by scoring the final four points and taking a 38-33 lead into the final quarter.
In the fourth, Serra got as close as two points, 39-37, after a pair of Biggins free throws with 6:42 left. But the Irish, again, weathered the Serra storm and eventually pushed their lead back to 10, 51-41, with 3:01 to play. Serra tried to make a run over the final minutes, but the Irish held them at bay by hitting most of their free throws down the stretch.
Besides Caruso, Biggins was the only other Padre to score in double figures, scoring 11 points. Andre Miller added eight points and 10 rebounds.
"You need to learn from this or you’re going to repeat it,” Rapp said. "Give credit to SHC. That’s a good team. It’s never an upset in this [league].”