The Sacred Heart Cathedral Fightin’ Irish packed a month’s worth of thrills into a single weekend.
They knocked Mitty out of first place in the West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL) on Friday night with a 62-61 overtime win, then followed that up less than 24 hours later with a 63-59 victory at Serra, their first road win over the Padres since 2014.
“We played like we had nothing to lose,” said senior forward Michael Manfreda, who scored 11 points in Friday night’s win and followed that up with another 13 on Saturday. “Once we do that, it’s really hard to beat us.”
Manfreda’s basket on an inbound play tied Friday night’s game at 54 with 1:04 left, and he scored 10 in the second quarter on Saturday to help the Fightin’ Irish open up a 32-21 advantage they’d never relinquish.
Fed Pernell set a new career high with 28 points in Saturday’s win, two more than he had scored in a Jan. 24 loss to Riordan. That loss marked the first of a four-game slide that ended on Friday night with a win over a Monarchs team that had beaten the Fightin’ Irish by 37 when they first met.
Pernell scored 16 points in Friday’s victory despite tallying just two in the first half. He knotted the score at 61 on a pair of free throws with 45.1 seconds left in overtime, then made one of two with eight seconds remaining to give the Irish the lead. Zemaury Erfe then stripped the ball loose on Mitty’s attempt at a game-winning drive.
It didn’t take Pernell anywhere near as long to heat up against Serra (11-10, 4-7 WCAL). He scored his team’s last four points of the first quarter and the first four of the second, then tallied 10 in the third to help keep the Padres at bay. His 3-pointer put Sacred Heart Cathedral (11-10, 5-6) up 37-27, and he sank another with a minute left in the quarter to give his team an eight-point lead after Aidan Carleson’s basket had closed the gap to five.
Serra trailed just 54-50 after Marcel Elicagaray’s 3-pointer with 2:29 to go, but Pernell scored from the elbow with 1:12 left, and a Jerry Mixon Jr. layup off a turnover extended the lead to eight. Mixon was called for a technical foul for flexing his biceps after he scored, but he made up for it with a pair of free throws with 37.3 to go. Alex Naber’s 3-pointer with 20 seconds left made it 61-56, but free throws by Pernell and Manfreda staved off any further comeback efforts.
Ryan Pettis, who led Serra with 21 points, made a 3-pointer in the dying seconds for the final margin.
Friday marked SHC’s first win over Mitty (17-4, 9-2) since the 2018 Central Coast Section (CCS) Open Division Quarterfinals, and Saturday snapped an 11-game head-to-head losing streak against the Padres. The Fightin’ Irish last beat Serra in 2017, and they hadn’t beaten the Padres at Morton Family Gymnasium since a WCAL Semifinal on Feb. 21, 2014. Their last regular season win at Serra was on Jan. 2, 2013, when Herman Pratt IV starred for SHC. Pratt is now an assistant for SHC’s girls team.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]