“I wanted to play well,” Hullings said. “This was a big game, last time playing at Bishop Carroll.”
Who was going to stop Carroll's quick rally as the Golden Eagles shot ahead 6-0 to start the contest? That would be Hullings, who splashed in a 3-pointer to get the Crusaders going.
But who would give Kapaun some much-needed momentum when it was down 15-11 with time running out in the first quarter?
That would also be Hullings, who stopped and popped another 3-ball as time expired to cut the deficit to one.
Kapaun's energy exploded from there. Jeremy Lickteig finished an and-one to give the Crusaders a 19-17 lead. They rolled to a 27-22 edge at the half and never looked back.
Sometimes, Hullings had the answer before the question was asked. Could Kapaun weather Carroll's comeback bid in the second half?
Hullings knew that answer before it started. He drilled back-to-back threes to open the quarter, sending a message to the Eagles.
“I'm not going anywhere. I'm coming out to play,” Hullings said of the statement. “That got me going in the second half, I think, just hitting those first two shots.”
Those buckets put the game out of reach for a Carroll offense that was confused and hesitant. Mistakes with the ball led to plays like Kapaun's Toby Baxter's break to the basket in transition. His layup and subsequent free throw from the frustration foul put the Crusaders up 13 late in the third. That lead grew to 18 by the end of the quarter.
Hullings even answered on the defensive front. When Carroll's Luke Hohl hopped up for a shot early in the fourth, Hullings swatted it down. It broke off another fast break and another 3-point play for Baxter on the other end.
Hullings ended his night with 25 points, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. Baxter and Lickteig each chipped in 11 more.
It was a different script from the Dec. 14 meeting at Kapaun, where Carroll pushed the Crusaders to five overtimes before succumbing to an 80-76 defeat.
“It's a completely new game,” Hullings said. “Everything is different. It's just a whole new ballgame.”
Logan Bullinger was Carroll's top shooter, scoring 14 points. The loss snapped a five-game winning streak for Carroll (8-8).
As the game dwindled down, Kapaun's student section took over for Hullings. He had sent the message himself with his play, but the students wanted to make it known loud and clear. Hullings said he enjoyed hearing the “This is our house” chants from Kapaun (12-5) on its rival's court.
“How can you not?” he said.
Kapaun's girls never struggled against the Golden Eagles, rolling to a 40-27 win.
The Crusaders (14-3) pushed the lead to 20 midway through the third quarter when Grace Hagan sank a 3-pointer from the corner to go up 33-13.
Bishop Carroll made an effort to bring the margin closer. Shelby Lopez completed a 3-point play to cut the deficit to 33-20, but the Eagles (8-8) never got near striking distance.
Kapaun won the previous contest 60-40 earlier this season.