Following last week's successful trip to New York, where it finally won the big one, O'Connell's girls basketball team returned home last night, where it continued to win the small ones.

The No. 2 Knights shredded Holy Cross's defense for 38 first-half points and routed the Tartans, 63-44.

The victory was the sixth straight for O'Connell, which was coming off a 78-67 overtime win over Christ the King, the nation's top-ranked team by USA Today, in the championship of the Christ the King tournament. O'Connell (9-2 overall, 4-0 in the Catholic Girls Athletic Association) lost to Christ the King in double overtime last season, but this year broke the Royals' 96-game winning streak.

"We played so well as a team in New York that we were afraid we might come out tonight and take Holy Cross too lightly," said Christie Finney, who scored a game-high 28 points. "But we played really well tonight and we were able to move the ball the way we wanted to."

Last night, the Knights went right to work, converting five steals in the opening three minutes into baskets and a 10-0 lead. Holy Cross (9-3, 4-1) was held scoreless and trailed, 12-0, until Sharon Hewitt's basket 4 1/2 minutes into the game.

Hewitt brought the Tartans to within 16-7 as she scored her team's first consecutive baskets, a three- and two-pointer, to finish off the first quarter.

O'Connell, which shot only 53.3 percent from the field (16 of 30) in the first half, went on a 9-0 run to lead by 29-12 and finished off the half outscoring Holy Cross by 18-1.

"Their press gave us a lot of problems," said Hewitt, who led the Tartans with 22 points. "They were coming at a really fast pace and we weren't used to it."

Christie Finney, who scored 18 points in the first half, had eight points in the spurt. Her twin sister Cathy began the run with a three-pointer. Jean Klepezyski (11 points), a 6-foot transfer from Langley, followed with an inside basket, increasing the Knights' lead to 25-12 with 5:45 remaining in the half.

Sharee McClellan finished with 10 points for O'Connell.