The Sacred Heart boys earned their seventh straight appearance in the Northeast Regional tournament Tuesday evening.
Playing at Miller Gym, the Cardinals defeated Ranburne 76-29 in a Class 2A sub-regional game. Sacred Heart will play Friday against Sand Rock, a 64-62 winner over North Sand Mountain.
In the first half, Ranburne was able to handle the Cardinals’ signature full-court trapping defense relatively well but couldn’t score consistently. Sacred Heart led 30-14 at the halftime break. The Cardinals then scored more points in the third quarter alone than they had in the first half.
“In the first half, we had guys that missed their rotation, missed their assignment, things like that,” Sacred Heart head coach Ralpheal Graves said. “They’re going to get the ball past half court. They’re going to handle the pressure well if we don’t do what we’re supposed to do. In the second half, we started making our rotations. People started being in their assignments, being where they’re supposed to be and they’re throwing the ball right to you. That’s just a testament to the boys coming out in the second half and really locking in and focusing on what we were trying to do and we were rewarded for it.”
Sacred Heart’s reward was a 32-6 advantage in the third quarter. Cade Landers scored eight of his game-best 17 points in the third-quarter explosion. Point guard TaiShun Hall, the only other Cardinal to reach double figures with 10 points, had five in the third as did fellow point guard Jarek Burroughs.
All 11 Cardinals in uniform scored. Senior shooting guard Jack Miller and strong forward Delroy Francis, and eighth-grader, each tallied nine points. Freshman Javen Croft scored eight points. Burroughs, another freshman, finished with seven points. Devin Barksdale scored five points, Anthony Bothwell and Eric Tolson three apiece and Ray Simmons one.
The best news of the night for Sacred Heart supporters was the return to action of 6-foot-5 senior strong forward Allen Marshall. Graves said Marshall had been cleared to play after having been out for an extended period of time with a toe injury.
Marshall entered the game with five minutes to play in the second quarter. Three minutes later, he netted the first of two free throws. Marshall added three more points in the third with a steal and a layup and one more free throw.
Graves said Landers and Bothwell, an eighth-grade guard, had missed time with injuries as well but were back in action.
“We’re just trying to get the full team together and hopefully go to Jax State and put together a string of wins and hopefully get back to Birmingham,” Graves said.
Junior Colby Hanson led Ranburne with 10 points. Classmate Carson Riddle had six points. Senior Chase Wiggins scored five points. Caleb Hornsby added three points. Tye Bailey and Ben Jackson each scored two points. Jaxon Langley netted a free throw.