Archbishop Molloy finally has the services of their entire starting five. As a result, the Stanners have retuned to their winning ways, blasting St. Francis Prep, 88-55, last Friday night to end a six-game slide and took apart St. Mary’s (Long Island), 78-54, Sunday evening in the Crotty Classic, the yearly fundraiser in honor of Tom Crotty, the lone Division I basketball player killed in the tragic 9/11 attacks, at Hofstra University.
Junior guard Russ Smith led Molloy with 28 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists and sophomore center Ashton Pankey added 22 points and 17 rebounds.
However, the two starters - senior guard Matt Grogan (14 points and six rebounds) and junior forward Jin Hong (seven rebounds, three blocks, four assists, four points) - that have returned from injury and suspension are paying dividends. Grogan is a fine complement to Smith, a patient, sharp-shooting guard. The 6-foot-6 Hong, meanwhile, is the Stanners’ top defensive player and finest athlete in addition to forming a solid two-man presence in the paint alongside the 6-foot-8 Pankey.
“Hopefully, by the end of the year we’ll be able to play with anybody,” said Molloy Coach Jack Curran, who is five victories short of 900 after notching win No. 895.
Six days off was not what the doctor ordered for Cardozo. The Judges, fresh off consecutive impressive wins over Archbishop Carroll (Washington, D.C.) and San Diego (California) in the Big Apple Basketball Invitational came out flat, and never fully regrouped, falling to Long Island Catholic power St. Dominic of Oyster Bay, 73-67.
Edy Toussaint led the Judges with 23 points, Trinity Fields added 20 and Dennis Oglesby had 10. Cardozo (13-4), who had won eight of their previous nine games, trailed by 19 points at three different junctures in the early going, but rallied, reeling off a 17-4 spurt to close the half. They got as close as four, 69-65, with 1:09 remaining on a Fields runner, but could not get over the hump.
“We did tonight what we have done all year - we didn’t come out ready to play,” Cardozo Coach Ron Naclerio said. “I don’t know what team I’m going to get quarter to quarter.”
In the first game of the day, St. John’s Prep topped Carey (Long Island), 42-40. James Reel, Rashad Smith and Coron Zigler each scored 12 for the Red Storm (11-6). In addition, Bayside fell to Kellenberg (Long Island), 66-46. Carlos Solano led the Commodores with 13.