While the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989 was catastrophic for much of the San Francisco Bay Area, it was a blessing in disguise for one girls'
Brian Harrigan was coaching at
But the destruction caused by the quake closed the all-girls' school, prompting Harrigan to switch to San Francisco Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep.
Sacred Heart first welcomed girls in 1987 and Harrigan took over the Fightin' Irish program just three years later.
Seventeen year hence, the Irish (19-2 overall, 11-0 league) are the toast of the West Catholic Athletic League and ranked sixth in the state overall.
Following Thursday night's key 50-38 win over San Jose Archbishop Mitty, the Irish lead the league by two games with three to go.
Harrigan, who played at Sacred Heart, credits his former Irish coaches, Jerry Phillips and Bob Roehl, for helping him develop his coaching acumen.
"I learned a lot about how to run a team," Harrigan said. "I learned the little things like how to discipline and how the team should present itself, both on and off the court."
And teamwork. Phillips was a coaching legend at Sacred Heart, leading the Irish to the 1970-71 Central Coast Section title. Roehl later became a very successful coach at Mountain View St. Francis.
Harrigan learned the concept of teamwork well and has passed it along to his players, who last year won the state Division IV title game, defeating Windward for the championship.
"We only talk about team," Harrigan said. "We tell them that if they play together, they'll be successful. But if they want to score 30 points a game, they should go to another place, but they won't be winning like we do here."
The Irish girls are unimpressive statistically, but a nightmare to compete against, what with their selfless motion offense and in-your-jersey man defense.
Sophomore point guard Ki-shawna Moore (5-5) runs the show and averages 6.8 points per game.
"I've coached for 26 years and she's the best point guard I've had,"
Junior guard Lauren Bell (5-8) is
described by Harrigan as a "good defender and great offensive rebounder" who
averages 8.6 ppg.
Harrigan describes swingman Tierra Rogers (5-9) as "one of the top sophomores in the country." She averages 9.4
points and has attracted the interest of
The Irish's leading scorer and go-to player is junior Jazmine Jackson who averages 11.6 points.
"She's a good shooter, who can also take it to the basket and handle the ball for us," Harrigan said.
Rounding out the starting lineup is senior center Monique Calvello (5-10), whom Harrigan describes as a "Charles Barkley-like" presense.
"She's not tall," Harrigan said. "But she's a very physical, strong player."
Last year coach Doc Scheppler led Los Altos Hills Pinewood to the state D5 title. His teams have played Harrigan's teams several times over the years and he's an admirer of the Irish program.
"They get good athletes and he plays the right style for those athletes,"
Scheppler said. "He always has a lot of depth and his girls get right up on you with that man-to-man. If they lose a game, it won't be because they didn't play hard enough."
After tonight's game against St. Francis, Sacred Heart will have just Belmont Notre Dame and San Jose Presentation standing between it and an unbeaten WCAL season.
Then it will be on to the playoffs for the Irish and coach Harrigan, who will try to duplicate last season's impressive post-season run.