NEW ORLEANS — Most teams prefer scoring over playing defense. Brother Martin likes to play defense because it helps set up its offense.
The Crusaders’ pesky efforts Tuesday night led to plenty of easy offensive opportunities during a 61-48 victory over visiting Rummel at Conlin Gymnasium.
Brother Martin took control in the fourth quarter when coach Bill Gallagher switched from man-to-man to zone defense, forcing Rummel to forget about its plan of getting the ball inside and try its offensive luck at converting on the perimeter.
It worked, as least for Brother Martin.
“Our kids kind of feed off of that,” Gallagher said. “They like switching things up a little. We love to press, and they know when it’s time to switch defenses. That kind of put the momentum in our favor.”
The change of pace energized Brother Martin after a sluggish first half, allowing the Crusaders to outscore Rummel 19-10 in the final quarter.
Jordan Cornish finished with a game-high 14 points, while teammate Bryant Boudreaux added 13. Jabbar Singleton also scored 11 as the Crusaders improved to 23-2 and 2-0 in District 9-5A.
“We weren’t hitting shots, so we decided to switch it to zone (defense),” said Cornish, a junior. “It worked. We executed.”
Early in the fourth quarter, Singleton scored on a layup, followed by two free throws by Jalen Gray. Cornish and Singleton added layups, giving Brother Martin a 52-46 lead.
Leading 58-46, Brother Martin couldn’t stop Rummel from collecting two offensive rebounds off missed 3-pointers, but the Raiders failed to score on the possessions. The possession ended with Brother Martin’s Patrick McCree racing down court where he was fouled and converted one of two free throws.
Brother Martin’s defensive change forced Rummel’s three-point attempts to increase from three in the first half to 16 in the second half, the vast majority of them misses.
“They forced us into doing something we really didn’t want to do,” Rummel coach Troy Holley said. “It was a smart move.”
Instead of Rummel moving the ball inside where Cethan Carter could work, the offense tried to score on the perimeter. Long rebounds then led to Brother Martin fast breaks and easy layups.
Holley said the Raiders (16-8, 1-1) have yet to shoot the ball like they have in the past, partly because of their state football championship hangover. With about half of the team two-sport athletes, their time on the basketball court this season has been limited.
Damien Williams led Rummel with 11 points. Williams was the Raiders’ lone double-digit scorer. He scored six of Rummel’s 10 points in the fourth quarter.
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