By Five Boro Sports
NORTH BABYLON, L.I. — The game plan was simple. In order for the Archbishop Molloy girls’ basketball team to beat North Babylon, it would need to work from the inside out. The Suffolk County squad boasts one of the best backcourts in the state — Bria Hartley and Eugeneia McPherson — but has very little size.
“It opens up the outside,” senior forward Nicole Marciniak said. “That was the game plan: Throw it in the post.”
Only the Stanners abandoned that approach in a 77-52 season-opening loss Saturday afternoon at the Hoops to Remember tournament on Long Island.
Junior forward Kyra Aloizos had six points in the paint in the first quarter, but finished with only 10 total for the game. Junior guard Kelly Guerriero hit three three-pointers in the first quarter, when Molloy was down only 19-15, benefiting from the inside-outside strategy. She made only one other shot from beyond the arc the rest of the game and finished with 12 points.
“We give them the game plan and then we don’t follow it,” first-year Stanners Coach Tom Catalanotto said.
Of course, North Babylon had something to do with that, too. The Bulldogs’ pressure hurt the Stanners repeatedly, resulting in 21 turnovers for the game. And North Babylon had the best player on the floor in Hartley. The 5-foot-10 junior guard scored 38 points, showing why she already has offers from Duke, Stanford and a host of other Division I schools.
“She’s really good,” Guerriero said. “Oh my God, I didn’t expect that.”
The Stanners didn’t expect to be blown out, either.
Molloy has all but two regulars, Kerri White and Molly Dreyer, back from last year’s CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens championship team. Catalanotto has taken over the reins from interim Coach Dom Cecala, who was not brought back and now is an assistant and junior varsity coach at Christ the King.
“We’re so much better than that,” Marciniak said.
Molloy players said they were really hoping to get Catalanotto, a former assistant at Molloy, Francis Lewis and Mary Louis, a win in his first game. The coach attributed the disappointing loss to not following the game plan and a lack of effort. Guerriero said Catalanotto told his players at halftime: “The winner of this game will be who comes out hardest.”
“I just didn’t think we came out hard enough,” she said.
Marciniak finished with nine points and 10 rebounds and Aloizos had seven rebounds. Both were good totals and Molloy did win the rebounding battle, but didn’t dominate the way it should have against a smaller opponent, Catalanotto said.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Stanners on Sunday. Molloy will meet H.D. Woodson (Washington, D.C.) HS, a team ranked No. 8 in the country, according to USA Today, at home. It’s the second game of an intense 2008-09 schedule. And that’s exactly how Catalanotto wants it.
“I want to play good teams,” he said. “It doesn’t pay to beat teams by 25.”
Ironically, that’s the exact total Molloy lost by Saturday against North Babylon. But there were definitely some lessons to be learned.
“This showed us what we had to work on,” Marciniak said. “It’s a big wake-up call.”