E.A. Sports Today

Young Guns II

Sacred Heart’s new youth movement lifts Cardinals to county tournament win over Ohatchee
All games at Pete Mathews Coliseum, Jacksonville
Boys bracket
Friday’s game
No. 12 Ohatchee 76, No. 13 Donoho 56
Saturday’s games
No. 11 Weaver 71, No. 14 Faith Christian 58 (OT)
No. 10 Pleasant Valley 63, No. 15 Wellborn 37
No. 8 Jacksonville Christian 80, No. 9 Saks 73 (OT)
No. 5 Sacred Heart 66, Ohatchee 45
Monday’s games
Weaver vs. No. 6 Piedmont, 10:30 a.m.
Pleasant Valley vs. No. 7 Jacksonville, 1:30 p.m.
Sacred Heart vs. No. 4 Alexandria, 4:30 p.m.
JCA vs. No. 1 Oxford, 7:30 p.m. 

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
JACKSONVILLE –Sacred Heart may be taking its lumps in the scoreboard this season, but if you wanted to catch a glimpse of the Cardinals’ future you only had to watch the second half of their 66-45 Calhoun County Tournament win over Ohatchee Saturday night.
The group that actually helped the Cardinals stretch the lead after a first half that looked like the end of Friday’s overtime area loss to Westbrook Christian was more of the junior high/B-team age than seasoned varsity veterans.
There were at times on the floor two eighth-graders and two freshmen with senior point Aaron Moore, who used to play at Ohatchee.
And this wasn’t mop up duty they were assigned. It was still very much a game when coach Ralph Graves sent them to see what they could do, but this was the bunch that stretched the lead to its final margin.
Those who’ve gloated over Sacred Heart’s misfortunes on social media these days likely will be crawling back into their basements soon. Remember D.J. Heath, Kevion Nolan and Deonte Wood were this age playing varsity at one time when the Cardinals were getting beat, and they were developing against a lesser schedule than the group coach Ralph Graves has now.
All they did was become the core of a legacy that included six straight trips to the Final Four and four straight state titles.
“A lot of times people play the scoreboard,” Graves said. “We’ve got a lot of losses – we’re like at .500 right now – and everybody is saying ‘Sacred Heart is not as good as it used to be.’ Well, not as old as we used to be either. 
“We’re trying to learn and work through a lot of kinks and working through injuries, things like that, and those young boys came out tonight and gave us a spark. They were playing like they belong. I was just proud of the way they rallied together, the team rallied together and it is bright for the future.”
Among their leading scorers were a freshman (Jarek Burroughs, 16 points) and two eighth-graders (Devin Barskdale, 11 points; and Delroy Francis, 9). Francis and Barksdale scored all their points in the second half.
“The new group had good energy,” Burroughs said. “We’ve got young guys who can play. Other teams don’t have young guys who can play like that. It’s pretty good to have young guys playing (like that).”
The move to the Young Guns came came after Ohatchee nearly erased all of a 15-point second quarter deficit, getting it back to a two-point game at halftime. The night before Westbrook came from 10 down in the fourth quarter to win in overtime. The Cardinals’ collapse came under too many turnovers, missed layups and free throws.
The Cardinals scored the first seven points of the third quarter – five by Barksdale – and were never threatened again. Eighth or ninth graders scored 19 of their 21 points of the fourth quarter.
“Sometimes I think our older kids play a little careless; the pressure gets to them from the program,” Graves said. “It’s like I’ve gotta score or if I don’t score I feel bad or if I feel turn it over I feel extremely bad because that’s not to the standard here at Sacred Heart so I think sometimes the pressure has a the older ones rattled a little bit trying to be what the previous teams did instead of just relaxing and evaluating the situation and playing the right way all the time.
“The young guys, they are hungry. They’re trying to prove, but there is no pressure because they’re so young. We’re just looking for no-quit, some grit, some toughness, some discipline. If we’re doing that it’s a win-win at the end of the day.”
The Cardinals now face fourth-seeded Alexandria Monday at 4:30 p.m.
Sacred Heart 66, Ohatchee 45
Blake Hollis 1 3-4 6, Domonique Thomas 0 0-0 0, Trey Pesnell 6 3-5 18, Cam Foushee 2 3-5 8, Drake Hollis 1 0-1 2, Jarod McFall 0 2-2 2, Austin Wyatt 2 1-2 5, Briley Hale 2 0-6 4. Totals 14 12-25 
SACRED HEART – Taishun Hall 3 1-2 7, Jarek Burroughs 5 2-3 16, Jack Miller 0 2-2 2, Devin Barksdale 3 3-3 11, Javen Croft 2 2-5 6, Anthony Bothwell 1 1-2 3, Aaron Moore 5 2-2 12, Delroy Francis 4 1-2 9, Ray Simmons 0 0-0 0. Totals 23 14-21 66.
Ohatchee                   7    20 10  8    –  45
Sacred Heart            17  12 16  21  –  66
3-point golas: Ohatchee 5 (B. Hollis, Pesnell 3, Foushee); Sacred Heart 6 (Burroughs 4, Barksdale 2). Technical fouls: Moore. Fouled out: D. Hollis, Francis. Total fouls: Ohatchee 18, Sacred Heart 23. Officials: Corley, Langford, Zauchiu.

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