High school basketball: Sacred Heart-Griffin knocks off St. Ignatius

CHAMPAIGN, IL-St. Ignatius junior Richard Barron was limping throughout the second half of the Wolfpack’s 50-39 loss to Sacred Heart-Griffin in the Class 3A IHSA state semifinals on Friday.

Barron and his teammates played a solid first quarter and led 14-10, but without their star at full strength, they just didn’t have enough firepower to overcome the talented young team from Central Illinois.

“I had managed to play through [an ankle injury] when it happened earlier in the season,” Barron said. “And I wanted to do that again. That’s just the type of person I am.”

AJ Redd split a pair of free throws with 3:20 left to pull St. Ignatius within 41-37. But the Cyclones (34-3) closed the game on a 9-2 run.

“I’m proud of the guys,” Wolfpack coach Matt Monroe said. “We’ve had a very special season, one that has presented a lot of challenges to us. And no matter what the situation they have always been resilient, always fought back.”

Redd led St. Ignatius (23-13) with 14 points. Miles Casey scored seven and Barron, Noah Davis, and Kolby Gilles each added six points.

“It’s certainly great to see the support of our entire school here, the students, our parents and staff and alumni,” Redd said. “They all came together to support us on this big stage. It was awesome to have them here. Although we came short of our goal of winning, this entire team has a lot to be proud of.”

Sacred Heart-Griffin, which starts five juniors, was led by Zack Hawkinson’s 22 points and 13 rebounds. He was 8 of 16 shooting.

“Overall we did a really good job on Hawkinson,” Monroe said. “He’s an outstanding player. The thing that changed was [Gilles] getting into foul trouble. We had to be a little more cautious then and that played a huge role.”

Jake Hamilton added 15 points for the Cyclones, who assisted on 12 of their 17 field goals.

“It’s an amazing feeling to go to the state championship game,” Sacred Heart-Griffin’s Keshon Singleton said. “It just shows the amount of work we put in on the court and how much we trust each other as friends and as teammates.”

St. Ignatius was just 2 of 19 from three-point range. Barron said the shooting background at the State Farm Center took some getting used to. When the tournament was in Peoria each team had a shootaround on the Carver Arena court the day before games began.

With the new format in Champaign, the players don’t get on the court until the pregame.

“It’s different but that isn’t any excuse,” Barron said.

This was the first appearance at the state finals for St. Ignatius. The Wolfpack will face Simeon in the third-place game on Friday night.

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