Many of the people in attendance for the Holy Cross Christmas Classic on Sunday night were surprised to see Khalil Williams light it up with six first-half 3-pointers.
Williams, on the other hand, didn’t share much of the crowd’s shock at his scoring outburst.
“No, it didn’t,” Williams said stoically when asked if he was surprised by his first-half performance. “It’s easy for me because if they help, I pass it and if they don’t, I take the wide-open shot.”
Williams’ 26 points helped push the Charging Buccaneers (9-6) to a 58-43 prep boys basketball win over John Curtis, which advances Landry-Walker to the championship round of the tournament.
Landry-Walker will face Riverside Academy in the championship round of the tournament on Monday at Holy Cross at 7:30 p.m.
“He plays football, so we knew it was only a matter of time before he got his legs under him,” said Landry-Walker assistant Antoine Byrd, who was filling in for head coach Brian Gibson. “We knew he could shoot … he did a really good job of knocking the 3-ball down. Last night, he hit three (3-pointers), so we saw it coming.”
While Williams shouldered much of the scoring burden in the first half, Keytaon Thompson came alive in the second half, scoring 11 points and giving Landry-Walker the second scoring option they needed to put some distance between themselves and the Patriots (8-4).
Byrd also credited Thompson, along with center and Tulane commitment Blake Paul, for their interior defense being a major reason why Curtis’ high-scoring backcourt of Kai Morgan and Richard Durant were held in check for the majority of the game. Thompson and Paul combined for 20 rebounds and seven blocked shots in the win.
“Our big guys did a good job of protecting the rim today,” Byrd said. “We made it tough on those guys to finish at the rim. Keytaon has been doing a good job for us on rebounding and starting the fast break. He had a couple plays where he got the rebound and went out on the break and got a bucket for us.”
Morgan and Durant combined for 31 of the Patriots’ 43 points but were forced to take mostly perimeter jumpers and combined to go 8-for-32 from the field.
Landry-Walker struggled to score early in the game and faced a 6-2 deficit late in a low-scoring first quarter, but once Williams entered the game off the bench, his perimeter shooting lit a fire under the Chargin’ Bucs.
He made two 3-pointers in the period, and his second made the score 8-8 heading into the second quarter. The Landry-Walker sharpshooter added four more 3-pointers in the second quarter to bring his first-half scoring total to 18 points, which almost matched the entire Patriots team as the Chargin’ Bucs took a 29-21 lead into halftime.
“We did a good job all around on defense and offense, playing together, so everything started falling for everybody,” Williams said.
And Byrd is hoping to carry some momentum into Monday’s game against Riverside.
“Riverside is a well-coached team, and we know they’ve been around for some time now,” Byrd said. “We’ve just got to come ready to play. We just have to bring the same effort we brought today. It’s going to be all about effort tomorrow.”