The blowout win clinches a spot in the Northeast Regional at Jacksonville State University. The Cardinals (23-6) will face Spring Garden in a Class 1A first-round game.
Last year, Sacred Heart fell at Skyline in the sub-regionals, and Cardinals head coach Ralpheal Graves has noticed the difference between last year’s team and his squad this year.
“I’m very proud of them. They’ve been working very hard all year,” Graves said. “I think they deserve to be moving, so hopefully we can go up to the regionals and play pretty well.”
At the Calhoun County tournament, Sacred Heart had a chance to play four games at JSU’s Pete Mathews Coliseum, which is the site of the Northeast Regional. But Graves isn’t buying that his team has an advantage.
“I don’t think there’s a home-court advantage,” he said. “I still think the goal is 10 feet, and the floor is 94 feet. So we still have to do the things we are supposed to do no matter where you play.”
The Cardinals’ victory over the Panthers (12-17) was fueled by D.J. Heath’s 26-point performance. Quin Williams also added 21 points, while Kevion Nolan chipped in with 13. Jake Peoples finished the night with 12 points.
Sacred Heart took control of this one early, which allowed Graves to unload his bench and get the reserves plenty of playing time.
The starters didn’t step foot on the floor for the whole fourth quarter.
Sacred Heart opened the game on a 36-0 run, and Woodville did not score their first point until a minute remained in the first quarter. The Cardinals carried that momentum into halftime, leading 60-24.
“You have to continue to play the way you’ve been playing,” Graves said. “If you don’t pick it up, you go home now, there is no excuse.
“So you have to play at a high level at all times now. I think if we continue to do that, we’ll be fine.”