Before Tuesday’s regional playoff game against a Carroll team featuring a front line of 6-foot-8, 6-4 and 6-3 on its 2-3 zone defense, John Curtis coach Mike Krajcer said “my Smurfs are going to have to move and shoot.”
Then 3-pointers began rolling off the hands of Curtis’ Richard Durant and Kai Morgan in an early deluge that swamped the bigger Bulldogs as Curtis rolled to an 80-52 victory in River Ridge.
Morgan (nine 3-pointers) and Durant (five) combined for all 14 of the Patriots’ 14 3-pointers.
Durant and Morgan did not miss from 3-point range at the start as the Patriots ran out to a 24-8 lead less than six minutes into the game. Durant made his first five 3-pointers and Morgan his first four in the opening period.
Curtis made eight of the first nine 3-pointers it attempted.
“They shot the ball as well as I’ve ever seen a team shoot,” Carroll coach Jesse Burnette said. “And they were long 3s.”
Curtis (22-7), the No. 3 seed in Class 3A, will advance to play the winner of the Albany-Evangel Christian game on Friday.
Morgan, a 6-4 sophomore, finished the game with 36 points, 23 in the first half. Durant scored 15 of his 19 points in the game’s first seven minutes.
“We’re coming together as a unit,” Krajcer said. “We’re moving the ball better, we’re looking for the right person ... getting the ball to the right person at the right time.”
The torrid shooting start by Curtis not only provided a 31-14 first quarter cushion, but forced the Bulldogs out of their 2-3 zone defense into a 1-3-1. Curtis went up by 20 points for the first time at 31-11 with one minute to play in the period.
Curtis’ quickness was evident, not only with offensive ball movement, but also on defense. Four of the Bulldogs’ first seven possessions ended in turnovers, including a pair of five-second counts.
“Our defense was very good,” Krajcer said. “Those big guys (6-8 Larry Holmes and 6-4 Amari Wilson) are factors scoring off rebounds. We kept them off the glass.”
Krajcer said the defense of 5-10 Jordan Holmes against Carroll’s 6-3 Jameon Green “was important. We count on Jordan for that.” Green was held to six points.
“If we are going to win (a state championship) that’s how we’re going to win ... defense,” Krajcer said.
Curtis led 55-27 by halftime and had opened up a 74-40 lead after three periods. The Patriots spread the floor for most of the fourth period.
Carroll finished 15-12.