Brother Martin’s pressure defense forced a bevy of turnovers from Hahnville, which helped the Crusaders steamroll the Tigers 66-44 in the quarterfinals of the Allstate Sugar Bowl CYO Basketball Tournament on Thursday night at Conlin Gym.
“We’ve got a group of kids that love to run and the chemistry is so good,” Brother Martin coach Chris Biehl said. “When you have good chemistry off the floor and you do it on the floor defensively, you can do some special stuff.”
With their victory over Hahnville (4-3), Brother Martin (2-1) put itself one win away from advancing to the final round of the CYO tournament for the third consecutive season. The Crusaders lost in the final round the two previous years.
They will be facing off with Catholic League rival Jesuit — which defeated John Curtis 66-60 in the quarterfinal round — in a semifinal matchup at Jesuit at 6 p.m. Friday.
“Our kids are motivated, but it’s one game at a time,” Biehl said. “We’re not going to look ahead. It’s a huge rivalry. Our kids and their kids know each other, they’re friends with each other and when they get on the court, it’s going to be fun.”
Forward Venjie Wallis led the charge for the Crusaders with 19 points, four rebounds and four steals, while Jeremy Singleton and Bruce Jordan-Swilling added nine and eight points, respectively.
“Venjie is our only returning starter from last year and (Wednesday) night he played a little timid, which is unlike him,” Biehl said. “He came out (Thursday) and got himself in a rhythm. The defense was clicking, and he’s a guy that gets out well and finishes.”
Brother Martin took advantage of a turnover-riddled first quarter from the Tigers and jumped out to an early 20-3 lead, powered by Wallis, who scored nine points in the period.
Wallis maintained his hot start into the second quarter, scoring eight of Brother Martin’s first 10 points to start the quarter as Brother Martin took a 37-18 lead into halftime.
Wallis had 17 points by halftime on 6-of-8 shooting from the field (5-for-5 from the free throw line) and added four steals.
“He’s our senior leader,” Biehl said. “We’ve put Venjie in a spot where her can get the ball and just go. Tonight, it worked like a charm.”
Sai Fisher led the way for the Tigers with 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field and Fountainette Bradley, coming off a 14-point performance in Hahnville’s victory over St. Stanislaus on Wednesday, added 13 points of his own.