Score one for disruption of what Holy Cross coach Mister Kirkwood likes to call “the order of operations’’ in the Catholic League boys basketball race.
Nearly a victim last Friday, Holy Cross rallied from 19-point second-quarter deficit to hand Jesuit its first District 9-5A loss in three games in a 58-55 overtime victory Tuesday night at the Jesuit gym.
Holy Cross guards Jason Chan and Tyler Beaver combined to score the first three baskets of overtime to punctuate a monumental comeback by the Tigers, who trailed 20-4 at the end of the first period and then 23-4 near the start of the second before clawing back to tie the score at 49 by the end of regulation.
“Our guys know that we can compete,’’ Kirkwood said. “We just had to show that we could. The game tonight was a four-quarter game. It was game in which we had to execute on every possession. But it was not a shock to me at all (to come back and win).
“We had a new lineup and it took us a while to get going. But once they got their feet wet, they competed. My staff and I never felt like we were out of the game. We just needed to settle down and compete.’’
With Beaver and Kirkwood’s son Tyler joining Chan and guards Kalil Thomas and Myles Sanders as starters, the Tigers needed four full quarters to catch the Blue Jays, who bolted to leads of 7-0 and 15-1 before ending the first period with a 20-4 advantage that expanded to 19 following a three-point field goal by guard Robert McMahon in the first 40 seconds of the second half.
From there, the Tigers used 20-11 and 16-9 runs in the second third periods to pull even at 40 entering the final eight minutes. But Holy Cross did not lead until a steal and basket by Beaver produced a 49-48 lead with 57.4 seconds left in regulation.
“We went in at the half and told the kids that it was a possession by possession game,’’ Kirkwood said. “We had to get a stop and get a basket and then get another stop and another basket one possession at a time.’’
Jesuit forced the extra period when forward Noah Varnado rebounded a missed shot, was fouled and hit one of two free throws to account for the final point of regulation with 45.8 seconds remaining.
Chan answered a Jesuit free throw by hitting two field goals after Jesuit turnovers in the first two minutes of overtime and Beaver followed with a field goal and two free throws to produce a 57-50 lead with 59.7 seconds remaining.
The Blue Jays then missed four of five three throw attempts that were sandwiched before and between the second of two Varnado put-backs that narrowed the lead to 57-55 with 10.2 seconds remaining.
Thomas hit a free throw with 8.7 seconds remaining and the Tigers survived a final three-point attempt by the Blue Jays that Kirkwood rebounded with two seconds left.
“Hats off to them,’’ Jesuit coach Chris Jennings said. “They were down by almost 20 and they took it to us. They got into the lane and we didn’t do anything about it. We just didn’t do a good job of responding.’’
Beaver, Chan and fellow guard Jeremy Lindsey each scored 11 points while Kirkwood and Thomas had 10 apiece to help the Tigers avenge a 64-54 loss to the Blue Jays in the CYO Tournament championship game on Dec. 1 in the Jesuit gym.
Returning All-Metro guard Elijah Morgan hit three three-pointers and seven field goals in all to score a game-high 23 points for the home team, which also got 11 points apiece from Varnado and McMahon. But only eight of Morgan’s points came in final two quarters of regulation that were followed by a scoreless overtime.
Holy Cross (18-5, 2-1) overcame 20 turnovers to win its second straight Catholic League outing and ninth overall in 10 games, which included a 59-49 escape against Brother Martin last Friday.
Jesuit (20-3, 2-1) also committed 20 turnovers in sustaining its first league loss and having a seven-game winning streak broken.
Neither team proved proficient in shooting free throws with Holy Cross hitting 13 of 27 compared to Jesuit’s 16 of 30.
But both teams remain within a half game of league-leading St. Augustine (21-2, 2-0) which did not play. The Purple Knights return to action by playing at Brother Martin on Friday while Holy Cross entertains John Curtis and Jesuit is at Shaw.
“I’ve been saying that the order of operations in this league is going to be messed up before the season is over with and I’m going to keep saying it,’’ Kirkwood said. “I referred to it tonight and I’m going to continue to refer to it just because that’s what happens.’’