By Joseph Staszewski
Aryn McClure understood no one could quite replace Columbia-bound forward Carolyn Gallagher. That didn’t mean she wasn’t going to try.
The sophomore forward did her best to ease Gallagher’s absence from the Archbishop Molloy girls’ basketball team’s lineup because of the flu, scoring 11 points and pulling down six rebounds. Her energy is something Molloy coach Scott Lagas said he wants to see more of.
“Filling in her shoes was hard to do,” McClure said “I have to be really more aggressive.”
The Stanners didn’t get much extra help outside of her, however, in a 64-55 defeat against host Murry Bergtraum at the Tayshana “Chicken” Murphy Memorial Classic Saturday. Bergtraum, the 14-time defending PSAL champions, made a concerted effort to keep the ball out of the hands of James Madison-bound Molloy guard Amani Tatum and get it to top shooter Nyasha Irizarry.
“When they play a triangle-and-two [formation] on our two scorers on the floor and we have to beg other kids to shoot the ball [and] if you shoot the ball timid, it’s not going to go in the basket,” Lagas said.
Both teams went on 7-0 runs late in the second quarter and Bergtraum took 28-23 led into the half. Molloy (7-2), which never led, got even at 35 with 2:30 left in the third before Bergtraum’s Jasmine Nwajei and Ashanae McLaughlin hit consecutive 3-poiners. McLaughlin had 19 points and Nwajei, a Rockaway Park native and Mary Louis transfer, had 18 points, including four treys.
Molloy found itself down 47-45 after a Daniela Arias jumper. McLaughlin added a layup and it appeared an extra point was added after Alexandra Smith missed two free throws as the score read 50-45. Lagas, who called the refereeing disgraceful, said he never got a proper explanation as to why the point was added and remained on the scoreboard.
“I don’t know where they got that other point from,” he said.
The Lady Blazers (9-2) put the game away when Nwajei buried a 3-pointer from the right side with the shot clock winding down to put her team up 55-47 with 1:20 left in the game. Nwajei called it her team’s best performance of the season and said she, McLaughlin and Joella Gibson (18 points) have learned to play together and share the ball.
“It took time to figure it out,” she said. ”I think we got it now.”
Molloy is hoping for its own learning experience after its first game without Gallagher. There needs to be an understanding of how much better others need to play when one of the teams’ star is missing.
“We all needed to play more aggressive,” McClure said. “Attack the basket. We all need to have more poise.”