Jays Topple Tigers in District Opener with Big Assist from Kulivan

Posted January 6, 2017 / Last updated January 10, 2017

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Holy Cross Coach implores someone, anyone, to try to guard Jesuit senior Collin Kulivan during the senior's 16-point first half on Friday, Jan. 6.

Collin Kulivan draws a second defender to keep him in check during the senior’s 16-point first half on Friday, Jan. 6.

Collin Kulivan didn’t score a point in the second half of Jesuit’s thrilling 72-65 win in its district opener against Holy Cross on Friday, Jan. 6. But the senior made arguably the biggest play of the game.

With the momentum in what had been a frantic game from the opening whistle shifting toward the Tigers, Kulivan chased down a long offensive rebound, secured the ball as he leaped out of bounds, pivoted 180 degrees in mid-air, and fired a perfect baseball pass to sophomore point guard Elijah Morgan. Morgan caught the ball in rhythm just behind the arc and drained a three-pointer to put the Jays up 65-58 at the 3:35 mark of the fourth quarter.

The visitors in Blue and White would need every bit of that seven-point cushion down the stretch. In fact, the never-say-die Tigers would cut the lead to one point with just under a minute to play. But another assist, this time a full-court baseball pass on an inbounds play, led to an uncontested lay-up by Morgan on the other end to give Jesuit a 68-65 lead with 43 seconds left to play. The Jays would hit some key free throws down the stretch to cement the victory.

Four quarters saw four different Blue Jays take the spotlight. In the first, senior Will Hillery complemented his trademark tenacious defense with three lay-ups to stake Jesuit to a 22-17 lead.

In the second quarter, just as it seemed Holy Cross was poised to make a run, Kulivan drained three three-pointers in a one-minute span, allowing the Jays to withstand a late second quarter flurry by the Tigers and head to the locker room down by only a point, 39-38.

The third quarter was senior Hunt Conroy’s time to shine. He knocked down nine of Jesuit’s 17 points in the quarter to lead the Jays to a 55-52 advantage heading into the fourth.

That’s when Morgan took over, scoring six points, including the critical three-pointer.

Indeed, it was three-pointers that kept Jesuit close all night. Holy Cross pounded the paint, scoring 44 points in the lane to Jesuit’s 28. They also drew more contact in the process, and ended up shooting 17 free throws to Jesuit’s 14, a margin that would have been wider if not for Holy Cross purposefully sending the Jays to the line down the stretch. Jesuit countered the onslaught in the paint with long ball, connecting on 11 of 19 three-pointers on the night, compared to two of 10 for Holy Cross.

Kulivan led four Jesuit scorers in double digits, finishing with 16 points. He also pulled down a team-high five rebounds. Morgan was next in the scoring column with 15, followed by Conroy with 14 and Hillery with 13. Senior Chris Beebe added seven points, with five of those coming in the fourth quarter when legs on both sides were starting to tire. Sophomore Nick Artigues also added some much needed offense late, scoring all four of his points in the final frame. Junior Drew Black added three points to round out the scoring.

Jesuit takes to the road again on Tuesday, Jan. 10 for a contest with the John Curtis Patriots. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00 p.m.