Holy Cross junior Xavier McKay started the second half of Friday night’s District 9-5A opener against Rummel with a 3-pointer over Dwight Harris.
After the shot, McKay added a few private words into the ear of Harris. The moment marked one of the few times McKay or Holy Cross had anything to say offensively at Rummel’s gym.
Behind a pesky defense, the Raiders held Holy Cross to a season low in points, taking 44-30 win.
McKay, one of the area’s top scorers, dealt with early foul trouble, as well as a nagging right hand injury, which has bothered him for nearly one month. He finished with 10 points, with no other teammates able to shoulder the offensive load for Holy Cross (10-12).
Meanwhile, Rummel, which led 20-14 at halftime, embarked on a 14-3 run in the third quarter that saw Holy Cross miss 16 consecutive shots from the field.
“All week, that’s what we stressed, defense,” said Rummel guard Caleb Burks, who finished with a team-high 13 points, including three 3-pointers. “We just wanted to come out and play hard.”
Harris added 12 points for Rummel (16-5).
“It controlled the game,” Harris said of Rummel’s defense. “It was a total team effort. We practice defense every day. It’s really emphasized. Everyone contributed. Everyone put their heart into it.”
Rummel coach Troy Holley said the Raiders did not focus their defensive attention on stopping McKay, who has scored 29 points twice this season. Instead, Rummel focused on a total defensive effort.
“One time this season, we focused in on one guy (Vandebilt Catholic’s Palmer Hill), and it ended up burning us (Catholic’s Gabe Huber scored six of his 10 points in the fourth quarter of a 43-39 Rummel loss).
“(Against Holy Cross) we just played our ‘D’. We didn’t want to help off of him a lot, but we weren’t going to just focus on him. We helped off of him one time too much, and he hit a 3.”
McKay’s 3-pointer to start the third quarter trimmed Holy Cross’ deficit to 20-17.
Later, with Rummel leading 22-18, Burks made a 3-pointer with 4:39 left in the third, after a layup by Adam Karrigan, set up by Trey LeBlanc. Burks added a put back, after Kristian Fulton’s layup, stretching the lead to 31-18.
After Jalen Henry converted one of two free throws and Ashken Stamm scored, McKay made two free throws for Holy Cross with 23.8 seconds left in the quarter.
While McKay was active, even if not successful, his teammates were not, failing to penetrate, or try to, which is something Holy Cross coach Mister Kirkwood plans to fix.
“We can’t be one-dimensional,” Kirkwood said. “Everybody knows he’s our guy. They were jumping out on our screens. The other guys weren’t slipping to the basket. It’s tough to win games in this district when you’re just relying on one guy to score.”