Maurice Dixon

@WriturRece | mobasketball27@gmail.com

ALPHARETTA (GA) – It took St. Francis just three minutes to jump ahead of First Presbyterian Day by double digits and the Knights kept rolling from there.

With five players in double figures, St. Francis started the game on a 15-0 run and didn’t let up en route to a 96-57 home win over First Presbyterian Day in the second round of the 2020 GHSA Class A-Private tournament on February 19.

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Not long after the opening tip, Jusaun Holt began filling many categories on the stat sheet, finishing with 19 points and 13 rebounds (both team highs), and six assists. Along with knocking down five 3-pointers, Holt cleaned up the defensive glass on one end before finding his teammates on the other end.

“Our main focus is just to play defense and get stops, and defense is the offense and that is how we went up 15-0,” Holt said.

“He just impacts the game at all levels,” St. Francis coach Drew Catlett said of Holt. “He can shoot it, pass it, and he can defend and rebound. That is why he is getting Division-I offers.”

Kai Simmons (18 points, eight rebounds) had a huge impact early as well even though the Vikings tried to neutralize his height advantage with a 2-3 zone.

“Kai had a really good game,” Catlett said. “Because he’s the biggest kid, I told him you can dominate inside–just go get rebounds. We looked for him early. He got some baskets and got some confidence. We need that inside presence.”

This strategy also proved to be ineffective against the explosive Dwon Odom, who scored all of his baskets at the rim, including five dunks. Odom (15 points) also handed out seven assists.

“Tonight he didn’t have to shoot the 3,” Catlett said of Odom. “He relied on getting the ball into the lane and getting other guys shots cause we got enough guys that can shoot the ball. He’s unselfish but he is very explosive in transition. He’s got another gear that a lot of high school kids don’t have.”

During the opening minutes, Simmons scored three of the Knights’ four baskets, resulting in an 8-0 lead. Then Jordan Brown (nine points) added a jumper to push the margin to double digits and Gavin Chapman called a timeout with 5:01 left in the quarter.

Following the short break, Holt found Brown for a 3-pointer and capped the surge with a layin for a 15-0 advantage. After Andrew Correa ended the Vikings’ scoreless drought, Holt knocked down a pair of 3s and Odom converted his second slam of the period to help produce a 29-11 score heading into the second quarter.

Thanks to better shooting efforts from Jordan Jones (18 points), Jaylun Goodrum (18 points) and Noah Johnson (11 points), First Presbyterian Day almost cut the margin to single digits but St. Francis closed the frame well for a 53-37 edge at the break.

“No. 3 [Jones] is really good,” Catlett said. “I told our guys he averages 25 a game. He can shoot it and get to the rim.”

In the third quarter, the Knights continued to execute offensively on their way to a 14th straight win. Chase Ellis scored 14 points and Seth Hubbard added 11 for the defending champions.

“Chase is just steady,” Catlett said. “He gets rebounds, scores in the paint and makes the extra pass.”