Brother Martin’s relentless defensive pressure helped built an early lead and then Tre’ Swilling countered a possible Holy Cross threat in the third quarter as the Crusaders defeated the Tigers 63-46 at Brother Martin on Tuesday night.
The victory enabled Brother Martin (18-7, 3-2) to remain in the thick of the District 9-5A race. Brother Martin , ranked No. 10 in the New Orleans Advocate’s Super Ten, also sits 10th in the LHSAA unofficial statewide 5A power rankings this week.
Coming off Friday’s staggering 71-70 upset loss against Shaw, the Crusaders were sharp from the outset Tuesday.
“Ninety percent of what happened tonight was because of our defense and our kids’ determination,” Brother Martin coach Chris Biehl said.
Holy Cross jumping out to 4-1 lead in the first 75 seconds, but Brother Martin’s pressure defense quickly took control.
Forced turnovers and repeated steals by the Crusaders impeded Holy Cross’ offense and fueled Brother Martin’s fast break, transition offense.
By the end of the opening quarter, the Crusaders led 19-4. At halftime it was 27-14.
After taking its 4-1 lead, Holy Cross (1-5, 10-16) went 8:45 without scoring a point. It was Lorenz Jones’ basket with 6:48 remaining the second quarter that broke the 20-0 Brother Martin run. The Crusaders led 21-6.
Early in the third quarter, Holy Cross went on an 8-4 run to cut the lead to 33-22. Swilling re-entered the game and scored eight consecutive points on driving layups created by the Crusaders’ defense.
Swilling led Brother Martin with 16 points, including 14 in the second half. Vinjie Wallis added 13.
Brother Martin dressed 11 players, and Biehl rotated all 11 into the game.
“Our depth was a factor,” said Biehl.
“Our halfcourt offense was not very effective, but that was because Holy Cross plays such a good, sound halfcourt defense. We played well defensively and just kept coming after them.
“(The pressure) creates a lot for us. Being able to rotate so many players is a luxury not many (schools) have.”
Xavier McKay led the Tigers’ threat in the third quarter by scoring 13 points in the period. He finished with a game-high 21 points. Jones scored seven for the Tigers. Travis Epps finished with 11 points, including three 3-pointers.
Swilling’s two free throws with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter gave the Crusaders’ their largest lead at 53-33.
The Catholic League championship race “will be interesting,” Biehl said. “We didn’t do ourselves any favors against Shaw. Our halfcourt offense was awkward at times tonight.”
Biehl said part of that was because of his desire to play all three of his post players.
“We’ve got some work to do. But I’ve got a great group of kids.”