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Gish, Sykes lead Helias past Father Tolton

One’s a senior, the other just a sophomore.

Together, the pair of Helias guards were sensational Tuesday night.

“They were really good, they produced for us,” Helias head coach Josh Buffington said of Dylan Gish and Isiah Sykes, who combined for 37 points as the Crusaders breezed to a 63-30 victory against Father Tolton at Rackers Fieldhouse.

Gish, playing in just his fourth game of the season after a prolonged absence following two ACL tears, was in top form. The senior shooting guard tallied a game-high 20 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range.

“It was good to see Dylan have a breakout night for us,” Buffington said. “He really shot the ball well and his shot selection was great.”

Sykes, a sophomore point guard, added 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting. More impressive was his ability to find teammates open for easy baskets.

“Isiah was finding him (Gish), and Isiah did a great job tonight of just getting into the paint and doing some good things for us in the open court,” Buffington said.

It took the duo, as well as the team as a whole, a little while to get going. Father Tolton’s active 2-3 zone caused problems in the first quarter, turning Helias into primarily a jump-shooting team. The Crusaders went 2-for-7 from beyond the arc in the opening stanza, with Gish hitting both his attempts, and held just a 16-12 lead.

That all changed in the second quarter.

“We started getting more reversals, we started moving it quicker and getting short-corner and high-post touches,” Buffington said. “Once we were able to do that, some more things opened up and we were able to get into a little bit better rhythm offensively. I thought we did a better job in the second quarter.”

After getting to the free-throw line just once in the opening quarter, Helias shot eight foul shots in the second period and 12 more in the second half. The Crusaders nailed their only 3-point attempt in the second quarter, a long-range bomb from Gish, and went 5-for-10 from deep during the final three quarters.

Helias’ assertiveness in attacking the basket, along with a strong defensive effort, saw the Crusaders ahead 31-16 at halftime.

Helias continued to pour it on, taking a 52-30 advantage into the final quarter. The Crusaders put on a defensive clinic over the final eight minutes, forcing Father Tolton into an 0-for-11 scoreless quarter.

“That’s always one of our goals coming into every season, to hold a team scoreless for one quarter of play,” Buffington said. “We were able to do that with a lot of subs. It was nice to see 13 guys get into the game, and when they got into the game, regardless of how we looked offensively, they continued to defend.”

Helias (12-11) travels Friday to Whitfield before closing the regular season with a home date against Rock Bridge on Feb. 22. Districts loom after that.

“We still have a long way to go to get to where we need to be in order to win a district championship,” Buffington said. “You try to keep those goals further into the future, but we need to get back to where we’re executing better on the offensive end and playing a little bit smarter on the defensive end.”

Having a player the caliber of Gish back on the floor certainly is an added bonus for the Crusaders.

“It helps us space the floor offensively,” Buffington said. “When you have another shooter out there on the wing and a player like Dylan, it’s going to obviously help us isolate Hale (Hentges) even more and teams won’t be able to key on him. It will give our guards, Isiah and Brock (Gerstner), more room to work to get in some gaps.”

Helias won the JV game 56-18. Sam Husting and Trevor Koelling both scored 16 points to lead the Crusaders (18-3).

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