Posted On: 01/30/18 4:00 PM
This District 9-5A contest, better known as the Catholic League, turned out to be a bit of an upset with Holy Cross taking down Brother Martin 71-60 this past Friday (Jan. 26). The Tigers lost to BM 67-66 and 64-51 in the previous two matchups but were dominant for much of Friday’s game leading by as much as 51-31 at the end of the third quarter.
We’ll take a look at how the league is shaping up this year while touching on a few of the key pieces in Holy Cross’ win over the Crusaders. There are also highlights of the matchup as well as another Catholic League matchup between Jesuit and Rummel, which you can read more about here.
(1) Who will win the Catholic League?
There aren’t any powerhouses in District 9-5A this season but six of the seven teams are fairly evenly matched making for an unpredictable district race.
Brother Martin was undefeated at 4-0 before the loss to Holy Cross but now the Crusaders have lost two straight after Sunday’s loss to St. Augustine. The Purple Knights improved to 5-1 in league play with the win over Brother Martin and are tied atop the league with Jesuit, which is 4-1. Holy Cross and Rummel are still in the hunt at 3-3 and 4-3, and Curtis and Shaw are bringing up the rear at 2-5 and 0-7.
St. Augustine and Jesuit match up tonight (Jan. 30) and the winner of that one will have a big advantage for the district crown. Holy Cross is picking up steam and beat Brother Martin without one their best players in 2019 Kalil Thomas (broken nose). The Tigers essentially need to win out and get a bit of help but I think they still have a puncher’s chance along with Brother Martin.
Rummel and Curtis certainly have talent but neither team has performed up to its potential for much of the season.
It’s highly likely the district will be decided tonight at St. Augustine and I think the Purple Knights will top Jesuit in another nail-biter. St. Augustine won the first matchup 36-35 on January 5.
(2) Will Holy Cross duo 2019 Jason Chan and 2020 Aaron Ursin emerge into Division I prospects?
I had only seen Chan at the Prep Hoops Expo in Baton Rouge over the summer but was really only able to see glimpses during skill work and during games. Seeing the 6-foot prospect in a structured setting for an entire game really opened my eyes, though.
Chan is an excellent distributor who was able to find guys with no-look, bullet passes time and time again finishing the game with seven assists. He also showed off his ability to shoot it draining four 3-pointers, one from half court, and grabbed six rebounds. It’ll be interesting to see how Chan performs against higher level prospects and he’s a player worth keeping an eye on.
Ursin’s size alone will draw the attention of coaches on the next level. He’s a legit 6-foot-6 2020 prospect with length and his 20-point, 10-rebound, 3-block performance against Brother Martin was his best game of the season by multiple accounts. The majority of his points came off of easy finishes but he cleaned the glass and protected the paint at a high level. Ursin reminds me a bit of Nicholls State freshman Ryghe Lyons at this stage of his development, minus the jumper but with more physicality.
(3) Will Holy Cross take control of the Catholic League in 2018-19 and 2019-20?
In addition to Chan and Ursin, the Tigers have a plethora of other returning players who will contribute in the coming seasons including 2019s Kalil Thomas, Myles Sanders and Tyler Beaver, as well as 2020s Tyler Kirkwood, Jeremy Lindsey, Miles Metze and Mike Crossley. The majority of the Catholic League’s other top teams rely on veteran leadership and production, and Holy Cross coach Mister Kirkwood’s young group could be in position to vault to the top of the district in the years to come.
(4) Is Brother Martin 2018 Tyler Epps the Catholic League’s best scorer?
Epps is a diminutive guard at about 5-foot-7 but he has really developed into a potent scorer. He finished with 24 points against Holy Cross including 14 in the fourth dropping four 3-pointers while going 9-of-10 at the free throw line. The senior has a reliable jump shot, is quick enough to get by defenders and make plays in the paint, and dropped a career high 41 on Curtis in an 87-70 win on January 12.
Other players to give Epps a run for the title of best scorer would include his teammate 2018 Tyler Lally, Curtis 2018 Donell Jones, Rummel duo 2018 Iman Fazande and 2019 Donte Mitchell, and Holy Cross 2019 duo Kalil Thomas and Jason Chan. My vote would go to Jones due to his size and athleticism but Epps is worthy of being in the conversation.
(5) What could the 2017-18 All-District team look like?
Here’s a guess at what the All-District team could look like in the Catholic League at season’s end. Holy Cross got the edge with three players with Ursin being the best true big man in the district.
The second half of league play is right around the corner, though, and multiple players could earn their way onto the team including St. Augustine’s Ze Muse or Jalvin Mitchell, Curtis’ Dawson Crosby and/or Rummel’s Aaron Brule among others.
Shaw is the only team without a representative and they’re also the only team I haven’t seen yet. It would probably be tough for an Eagle to make the team, however, unless they can grab at least a couple of league wins down the stretch.
G — Bryson Celestine (St. Augustine, 2018)
G — Elijah Morgan (Jesuit, 2019)
G — Donell Jones (John Curtis, 2018)
G — Tyler Epps (Brother Martin, 2018)
G — Jason Chan (Holy Cross, 2019)
G — Iman Fazande (Rummel, 2018)
G — Donte Mitchell (Rummel, 2019)
G — Tyler Lally (Brother Martin, 2018)
G — Kalil Thomas (Holy Cross, 2019)
C — Aaron Ursin (Holy Cross, 2020)