One of the few high school trophies significant enough to have its own Wikipedia article could be won on Wednesday night.
St. Ignatius currently holds a 2-1 lead over Sacred Heart Cathedral in the 2022-23 Bruce-Mahoney Series, and should the Wildcats’ girls basketball team defeat the Fightin’ Irish on Wednesday night, the trophy will remain in the Sunset for another year.
As simple as the requirements may be, the task at hand is nowhere near as easy.
Sacred Heart Cathedral (15-2, 3-1 WCAL) currently sits in second place in the West Catholic Athletic League (WCAL). The Fightin’ Irish have lost just two games this season, one to defending state champion Salesian and one to Mitty, winners of the last seven WCAL championships and the defending California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Open Division Champions.
“Both games with them last year were battles, they’ve got everyone back and now they’re better,” Wildcats head coach Maya Fok said.
SHC is currently enjoying a resurgence that few outside of the Ellis Street campus may have expected, but one that comes as little surprise to head coach Demetrius Jackson. The Fightin’ Irish have three returning starters in Leilani Blecha, Reza Po and Malea Scobie, and Inez Gallegos would have started last year if not for a shin injury.
“As naïve as it may sound, I thought we could compete like this,” Jackson said after the Dec. 13 loss to Salesian. “We believe we can win every game.”
Last year, the Wildcats also had a chance to secure the trophy, and did so with a 60-47 win at Kezar Pavilion, though that team was led by now-graduated Sabrina Ma and Soon Ja Elzey.
This year, St. Ignatius (9-8, 2-2) is led by seniors Emmie Ennis, Brigitte Mahoney and Jaclyn McDonough.
“I told our captains that I remember my Bruce-Mahoney Game in 1998,” Fok said. “I got an and-1 and the crowd was going wild. There’s no better feeling.”
Wednesday’s game tips off at 7:30 p.m. at USF’s War Memorial Gym. Up until the 2021-22 season, the girls typically played before the boys game, but with the girls now competing for the trophy and USF’s capacity reduced to roughly 3,300 with the construction of the Sobrato Club on the west side of the building, the boys’ and girls’ programs each get their own separate nights in the spotlight.
“It’s a great opportunity for the young ladies for both schools,” Jackson said. “Both teams, win or lose, will be able to share these memories with their families for the rest of their lives.”
Should the Irish emerge victorious, the series will be decided at Oracle Park when the two schools meet in baseball. That game is tentatively scheduled for March 25.
Ethan Kassel can be reached at [email protected]