By Joseph Staszewski
Scott Lagas is on Jessica Jamin constantly at practice.
“We say to her every single day, ‘When you want to realize your potential, you can be a very good basketball player,’” the first-year Molloy coach said.
The junior guard showed a glimpse of that Saturday when her team needed a lift. Molloy trailed Mary Louis by as much as eight points midway through the third quarter. Out of a timeout, Jamin buried a jumper from the right side to close out the frame. It got Molloy, which was trailing most of the game, even and the momentum carried over into the fourth.
“That momentum for the fourth, it really got everybody excited,” said Jamin, who started early last season and now comes off the bench.
She started the stanza by feeding Patti Dorgler for a layup, hit another long jumper of her own and got an offensive rebound that led to an Amani Tatum bucket. It was all part of a 16-3 Stanners run that helped propel them to a 47-40 victory over Mary Louis in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I girls’ basketball in Jamaica Estates. The win is the Stanners’ second straight following a three-game losing streak.
“She’s a major asset on the team, whether people know it or not,” Tatum said. “She is very effective on the court when she wants to be.”
Carolyn Gallagher led Molloy (13-6, 5-3) with 21 points and Tatum had 10. Nyasha Irizarry added six points. Queens College-bound forward Elisabeth Gully and freshman Mei-Lyn Bautista each had 10 points for Mary Louis (9-11, 2-7) on Senior Day. Reana Mohamed, who is headed to George Mason, added six points.
The Hilltoppers played without star guard Jasmine Nwajei. She was dealing with a personal matter with her family, according to Coach Joe Lewinger, and was not in attendance. TMLA played some of its best basketball of the season with the ball moving in the first half, including an 8-0 run, to help build a 28-19 lead at the half. It was then held to two third-quarter points.
“When you score two points in a quarter, it puts so much stress on your defense as well,” Lewinger said.
Molloy let TMLA creep back into the game with off-the-ball fouls late in the fourth. The Hilltoppers got as close as 43-40 with 1:49 remaining on two Mohamed free throws. Tatum was fouled and made 1-of-2, but Gallagher, who is playing with a broken nose, got the rebound and scored on a putback to extend the lead to 46-40.
“I almost subbed her out because she had four fouls,” Lagas said. “If you don’t box her out, she is going to pursue the ball.”
Added Lewinger: “We got to get that one.”
The Stanners got a scare just eight seconds into the game when Tatum was fouled and hit her head on the padding covering a small closet under the basket. It was just her second game back after a suffering a concussion against Christ the King Jan. 18. Lagas thought about leaving her out, but like her team Tatum bounced back and insisted on returning after being given the OK from the rest of the coaching staff.
“We have some kids with some heart on this team,” Lagas said. “We have been a little bit up and down for the last two weeks or so, but hopefully this propels us to get back to where we were before.”