By Mike Smollins
If Marquise Moore had any rust in his first game back to the court in two weeks, it didn’t show Friday night.
Moore was instrumental in Holy Cross’ 70-55 victory over St. Francis Prep in CHSAA Class AA boys’ basketball in Fresh Meadows.
For Moore, who put up a team-high 30 points, it wasn’t just about the points. It was about finally getting a chance to play.
“This is a big game to come back,” Moore said. “I’ve been out for awhile, so I just wanted to be aggressive, play my game and get this win. This was a big win for us. It gives our team a lot of confidence to know we can do a lot of good things. The toe is feeling good.”
Moore, who had two full practices this week and hasn’t felt any ill effects of his twice-injured toe, made 13 of his 17 attempted free throws and was 7-for-8 from the field. Holy Cross dominated its Queens rival from the onset, going on an 8-0 run early on in the first quarter en route to an 18-7 lead.
The frustration of being on the sidelines was worth the wait to comeback for Moore.
“It hurts when it’s your senior year,” Moore said. “When you have to sit out a few games, it’s hard to watch. You want to be out there and help your team.”
Moore made up for lost time by helping his team in a huge way Friday. Moore helped them in maintaining a first place lead over Christ the King, who they play this Friday on the road.
“We’re a much better team when he plays and it’s much better to see him on the court instead of on a bike,” Cross Coach Paul Gilvary said.
While Holy Cross (16-3, 8-1) feels good about having one high scorer return, they lost another in the second quarter when Mairega Clarke sprained his ankle and didn’t return for the second half. While it was a cause for concern, it seems to be only a minor injury.
The Knights took a commanding 40-25 halftime lead before the injury. Holy Cross continued what it has done all season and spread the points all around the lineup, as Will Davis contributed 22 points, eight of which he scored in the second frame. Davis, who is in the top-10 all time for three-pointers for Holy Cross, was 3-for-4 from three-point range.
“From the beginning I was feeling it,” Davis said. “My teammates were giving me the ball so I was knocking down shots. Coming in here, it’s a tough environment and we just wanted to make sure that we got the momentum going our way first. Marquise gave us a lot of energy and played outstanding tonight.”
St. Francis Prep (7-13, 1-8) did all it could to stay in the game, but fell short despite getting a 15-point night from Andrew Winter. The Terriers came within seven of the Knights when Winter hit two free throws, but that was the closest they would come as Holy Cross continued to pad their lead.
“We’ve been struggling most of the year,” said St. Francis head Coach Tim Leary. “We’ve been struggling from the foul line and it happened again tonight. We just didn’t compete hard enough in the first half and that’s where it all started. We can’t play from behind, we don’t have enough fire power.”
The win is big for the Knights, as they have momentum heading into their meeting on the road against Christ the King this Friday, but to Gilvary, it’s not about momentum.
“I think every game stands on its own,” Gilvary said. “I’m not a big believer of one game carrying over to the next. I think you have to prepare for each game and it’s what you do that night that really determines your success or failure.”