By Joseph Staszewski
Scott Lagas finally let Amani Tatum do her thing: Will a win.
The Archbishop Molloy coach said his star guard did her best to play within the offense for most of the team’s first-place tiebreaker game. The Stanners trailed by 20 points in the third quarter before the James Madison-bound guard showed signs of life.
“At a certain point, she decided and I said to her, ‘It’s your time now,’” Lagas said. “She put the team on her back and she just carried them right through the fourth quarter.”
Tatum scored 19 of her 21 points in the final 10:25 of the second half and 13 in the fourth quarter of Molloy’s dramatic 52-49 victory over Bishop Ford at St. Francis Prep Feb 21. The Stanners outscored the Falcons 22-4 in the fourth quarter by slowing the pace and switching to a zone. They held Ford without a field goal until 0.1 second was left in the frame.
The win earns the Stanners (19-6) the school’s first CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I regular basketball season title and the top seed in the diocesan tournament. It’s the first step for Tatum and the team’s seniors to leaving their mark on Molloy history.
“I wanted to be in first place,” she said. “I wanted to be in first place, just making history for Molloy and keeping our legacy there.”
Tatum connected on a three-pointer right after Ford (18-7) took a 42-22 lead with 2:55 remaining in the third. She hit from beyond the arc again at the third quarter buzzer and scored Molloy’s first six points of the fourth to pull her team to within 47-36 with 5:28 left to play. It was reminiscent of her performance in playoff wins over Mary Louis and St. Anthony’s at St. Francis Prep last year.
Tatum stole a pass at the top of the key and went in for a layup to tie the score. On the next possession, she found Carolyn Gallagher in transition to put Molloy up for good at 49-47 with 1:12 left to play. Gallagher, who was celebrating her 18th birthday, had eight of her 16 points in the fourth.
“We needed to step it up, me and Amani,” Gallagher said. “Once we did, then our team followed.”
For three quarters, it was sophomore Aryn McClure (13 points) who carried Molloy. She battled Ford’s forwards and Brandi Segars (13 points) on the glass. McClure scored in the paint to keep the Stanners in the game as the Falcons continually got baskets in transition.
Tatum took it from there and wants to keep it going.
“Two more wins and we are Brooklyn/Queens [diocesan] champions,” Tatum said. “There is not much I can ask for but to keep winning.”