This time, the Catholic League debut went the way John Curtis wanted it to.
Three months after losing a heartbreaker to Brother Martin on the football field in its first Catholic League game, the Patriots basketball team got a little revenge.
Dawson Crosby and Kai Morgan combined for 26 points as Curtis topped Brother Martin 51-44 at Conlin Gymnasium in both teams’ District 9-5A opener.
Curtis, which joined the Catholic League this school year, improved to 6-6.
“This was a great win for us,” said Morgan, a junior guard. “That was a great team, and this win can get our confidence back up. We have had a little skid, but we are starting to get into our rhythm.”
Crosby led Curtis with 14 points, and Morgan had 12. Morgan scored all of his in the first half to help the Patriots build a 33-29 lead.
“We have been struggling as of late, and the kids were doubting themselves, so this was huge for us,” said Curtis coach Mike Krajcer. “We just have to keep playing. That’s what young teams have to do.”
The win helped remove the taste of that 40-37 overtime loss in football. Several former Curtis football players, including LSU receiver Malachi Dupre, Washington State defensive back Hunter Dale and Mississippi State defensive lineman Torrey Dale were in attendance.
“The football players wanted this one very bad, and I’m just a happy we got it for them,” Morgan said. “We lost seven seniors from last year’s team. We have a lot of players coming from JV, so for the first Catholic League game I thought we did really well.”
The Patriots made 7 of 8 free throws in the final quarter to hold off the Crusaders.
Brother Martin dropped to 8-9 and saw its three game-winning streak halted.
Irv Smith, a tight end on the football team, led the Crusaders with 17 points and shouldered much of the load, especially in the second quarter.
Smith scored 10 of Brother Martin’s 14 second-quarter points. Smith, committed to Texas A&M in football, went 8 of 11 from the free-throw line in the quarter.
Both teams struggled from the floor in the third quarter, with the Crusaders outscoring the Patriots 7-4 in the quarter. Curtis went the last 4 minutes and 54 seconds of the quarter without a basket.
But the Patriots, despite the scoring drought, still prevailed.
“I felt like we controlled the tempo,” Krajcer said.
Vance Burwell chipped in 16 points for Brother Martin.
“Let’s give credit where credit is due,” Brother Martin coach Chris Biehl said. “Curtis came and played well. We shot 29 percent for the game and you can’t win like that and we turned the ball over. But credit to Curtis.”
Eight players scored for Curtis. Shawn Anderson and Rhyge Lyons had six points, and Devon Benn and, Keenan Hurst scored four points apiece.
“This is more of a balanced scoring team than I have ever had,” Krajcer said. “Dawson can shoot it. Hurst can shoot it, and big Willie (Allen) came through with some big free throws. It was a well rounded game.”