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Serra flattens Sacred Heart Cathedral for third straight win

Sacred Heart Cathedral forward Jerry Mixon Jr. (21) tries to score while being defended by Serra guard Ryan Pettis (2) and forward Alton Robenalt (20) during a West Catholic Athletic League basketball game in San Francisco, Calif. on Jan. 26, 2023. | Courtesy Mona Fowler

The tides appear to be turning for the Serra Padres.

A team that lost its first four West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) contests has now rattled off three straight wins, the latest a convincing 75-56 triumph over the host Sacred Heart Cathedral Fightin’ Irish on Thursday night.

“It’s taken us a while to get in rhythm and sync with each other,” said Serra head coach Chuck Rapp. “We’re starting to play better.”

Serra (10-7, 3-4 WCAL) jumped out to a 17-7 lead after a quarter, held a 31-17 halftime advantage behind 15 Ryan Pettis points and led by 17 after three quarters. It’s the Padres’ 11th consecutive head-to-head win over the Fightin’ Irish.

“Sacred Heart does a great job of bringing a lot of pressure,” Rapp said. “We were able to attack their pressure and get easy baskets off it. I think that was the key, really.”

The Padres made an impressive seven 3-pointers on 13 attempts and shot 23-for-44 overall.

On defense, they reined in a star senior duo of RL Miller and Jerry Mixon Jr., holding the pair to just seven points in the first half. Junior guard Fed Pernell, who scored 26 points on Tuesday night at Riordan, was limited to just five for the game.

Pettis finished the night 3-for-4 from 3-point range, scoring a game-high 24 points. He also had seven rebounds and six steals, yet still feels like there is room for improvement, rating his performance a “six out of 10.”

“I played good, but I still have to limit the turnovers,” he said.   

He was accompanied by the usual cast of Marcel Elicagaray (12 points) and Aidan Carleson (11 points).

Sacred Heart Cathedral (9-8, 3-4) trailed 53-40 with 5:36 remaining, but a foul on Jack Kennedy and a technical foul on Mixon Jr. for spiking the ball after the whistle killed any momentum the hosts may have had. Carleson made both free throws for the common foul, Pettis followed by making both shots for the technical and Elicagaray hit a 3-pointer from the wing on the following possession for a 7-0 run that put the game out of reach.

Mixon Jr. and Kennedy each scored 10 points to lead the Fightin’ Irish.

The Padres and the Fightin’ Irish will both be back in action Saturday night. SHC will travel to Bellarmine (7-10, 2-6), hoping to replicate a 22-point Jan. 6 victory. Serra will host Mitty, whom the Padres lost to 54-33 earlier this month.

“When we were 0-4 in league, our motto became ‘next game,’” Rapp said. “Mitty will be a big test for us. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”