This is not the John Curtis boys basketball team that opened the season.
That team started the season 4-6. This team is on a roll.
Curtis found a rhythm from beyond the 3-point arc and took advantage of the mismatch created by LSU football commitment Willie Allen to defeat Rummel 59-45 in a Catholic League game Tuesday night.
After an auspiciously slow start this season, the Patriots (9-9, 3-2) not only evened their record but reeled off their third win in a row.
“That’s what we’re supposed to do,” Curtis coach Mike Krajcer said. “With the group that we have, it takes time to gel. It takes time to figure out who we’re going to play and what, and you noticed that the guys in at the end are not the guys that began (the season).”
“We’re playing great right now. It’s good basketball,” said Kai Morgan, who led Curtis with 14 points. “If we play like that, the sky is the limit. It was a total team effort, and we needed to win tonight.”
Krajcer’s lineup went toe-to-toe with one of District 9-5A’s top teams in Rummel, which was also sporting a two-game win streak.
Curtis raced out to a 17-10 lead before Rummel received back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers thanks to Trent Tully, Shahid Reece and Aaron Brule as the first half buzzer expired to make it a 21-19 game.
The Raiders’ (13-11, 4-2) momentum carried into the third quarter, as Tulley’s second 3-pointer tied it at 24 at the 5:31 mark in the period.
Then, Curtis kicked it into second gear.
Morgan and Rayge Lyons hit consecutive 3-pointers to jump-start the Patriots on a 15-1 run and help them regain control.
In the fourth quarter, Curtis closed with dominant inside scoring thanks to the frontcourt tandem of Willie Allen and Allen Dixon, who combined for 14 of the team’s 20 points in the frame.
“We knew we couldn’t lose to these guys,” said Allen, who finished with 11 points and four rebounds. “We lost twice to them in football, but the past is the past. We really needed to come together in the second half and play our game, and everyone played their role. We passed the ball better and just had better fundamentals.”
“I think we just got more comfortable with our offense,” added Morgan, who scored 11 of his points in the final two quarters. “Devon (Benn) did a good job of finding people that were open, penetrating and hitting Willie down low. When everyone is trying to cluster in on Willie, it gets our guards open shots, and we just got to hit them.”
Benn finished with three points and eight steals. Dixon scored 10 points to go with four rebounds, and Darnell Jones — who made a spot start in place of an injured Dawson Crosby — chipped in eight points.
Tully, Reese and Jamar Chase each led Rummel with eight points. Ashren Stam scored seven points, and Donte Mitchell added five off the bench.
The Raiders finished 6-of-18 from beyond the arc, while the Patriots went 7-of-15 — a deciding factor, Krajcer said.
“We’ve been working on shooting 3s a lot,” he said. “We missed 19 versus Jesuit, but we’re going to continue to shoot them because that’s our game.”