Pure dynamite, of course.
Brother Martin guards Tyler Epps and Tyler Lally proved as unstoppable as they were volatile in combining to score 57 points to keep the reigning Catholic League champions unbeaten in District 9-5A play with a resounding 87-70 victory against John Curtis on Friday night at Martin’s Conlin Gymnasium.
Epps scored a career-high 41 via an assortment of jump shots, drives and free throws for which Curtis had no answer. The 5-foot-8 senior sank eight 2-point field goals, four 3-pointers and hit 13 of 16 free throw attempts.
Epps’ scoring breakdown included 6 points in the opening period as Martin established an 18-15 advantage, then 9 more in the second period as the Crusaders extended their margin to a comfortable 41-26 at intermission.
Epps had 26 by the end of the third period that finished with Martin leading 61-40 and then punctuated his fantastic evening with 15 more in the final eight minutes.
Lally, normally Martin’s leading scorer scored 16 points via three 3-pointers, one 2-pointer and a 5-of-6 effort at the free throw line.
“My teammates committed to getting me the ball,’’ Epps said. “They sacrificed for me. And, basically, I got it going.’’
But more than offense, Epps pointed to the Crusaders’ swarming defense that forced Curtis into 15 first-half turnovers and 22 total.
“We’re committed to defense as a team,’’ said Epps, who was not a starter as a junior. “That’s what wins us games, our defense. We boxed out and played together . . . and that’s what Coach (Chris Biehl) preaches to us every day.’’
Despite returning only one starter from a season ago, Brother Martin (13-7 overall, 3-0 in 9-5A) won its third straight outing to set up a Tuesday showdown at former league leader Jesuit (13-4, 2-1). The Blue Jays sustained a 64-58 loss Friday night at Holy Cross (14-8, 2-2).
“Everybody is committed to taking away Tyler Lally,’’ Martin coach Chris Biehl said in dissecting Epps’ Herculean effort. “And they should because he’s one of the leading scorers in the city. We felt like (Curtis was) cheating toward Lally and it opened it up for Tyler.
“But those other boys on the floor do a lot to get those two (Lally and Epps) open. They’re the unsung heroes.’’
Curtis (6-13, 1-3) was attempting to capitalize on a 65-62 victory against Holy Cross on Tuesday, but withered under Martin’s pressure following the opening period.
Guards Dawson Crosby and Donnell Jones scored 19 and 16 points respectively to pace the Patriots.
Martin’s largest lead was 25 points in the fourth quarter and the Crusaders led by no less than 14 in the final period after closing the third holding 61-40 cushion.
The Crusaders’ defining moment defensively came in the second period when they held the Patriots scoreless for the first four minutes, 10 seconds while establishing a 27-15 lead.
“We came out in the first quarter and committed to defense,’’ Lally said. “It wasn’t about scoring points. If we hold (the opponent) to one shot, we can’t be beat.
“This team is coming together. Me and Tyler have been playing together for six to seven years. We feed off each other.’’