By JOSEPH STASZEWSKI
Losing an All-American from your starting lineup is never an easy thing to make up for. It’s a task Christ the King freshman Sierra Calhoun may need to deal with for more than a game next season, but for one night the wing certainly helped ease the loss of Bria Smith.
“I knew I had to play hard and pick up some slack from Bria’s side because she was out,” Calhoun said. “She is a big scorer, big defender and she gets a lot of steals and rebound for us.”
Calhoun did all those things, especially early in a 64-39 win against visiting Archbishop Molloy in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I girls’ basketball Friday night. She scored 10 of her 16 points in the first half, dished out five assists and grabbed four rebounds. The win moves CK (17-6, 13-1) into a first-place tie with Nazareth.
“She has established herself really well,” Royals Coach Bob Mackey said of Calhoun. “She is definitely a major contributor right now.”
Nia Oden had 18 points and eight rebounds on Senior Night. Lauren Nuss had 11 points and Rayne Connell added eight. Smith missed the game for precautionary reasons with a knee injury. Kamille Ejerta and Angela Contorno each had 10 points for the Stanners and Alexa “Weasel” Dietrich added seven. Molloy (10-12, 5-8) played without star Amani Tatum because of an ankle injury.
“Our goal is to win our division and Sierra and I made tonight even more special,” senior Nia Oden said. “I’m excited. We beat [Nazareth] once by 17. We just have to come out hard and get the win again.”
Calhoun and Oden combined for 12 of CK’s 14 first-quarter points. Calhoun, who was attacking the basket and the glass, opened the second quarter with a three-pointer from the top of the key and Oden added a contested jumper from the corner to help extend the lead to 22-9 with 6:22 left in the first half. Ejerta and Dietrich sparked a 14-4 Molloy run that Elizabeth “Gurt” Lynch capped with a runner to cut the CK advantage to just 28-21 with 1:12 remaining, but never got closer.
“You play against a team like this, you can’t blink,” Molloy Coach Tom Catalanotto said.
CK ended the half on quick run and took a 34-21 lead into the locker room after two Calhoun free throws, two more from Connell after a steal and a Nuss strip and score with just seven seconds left on the clock. The advantage ballooned to 48-25 late in the third quarter after Nuss found Quincey Martin-Chapman for a transition layup, knocked down a three-pointer and Ashley Raaf made one-of-two from the free throw line. The game was also Jessica Wasserfall’s return to the court from an ankle injury.
“That was a big momentum swing for us,” Calhoun said.
“We need to play more consistent,” Catalanotto said. “We didn’t play consistent [Friday].”
That’s exactly what Calhoun has been of late; Friday was just another example.
“Today was the most aggressive she’s been,” Oden said. “She came out, she was aggressive and she was really playing hard.”