By Joseph Staszewski
Archbishop Molloy said it finally had enough after a lopsided basketball loss to Christ the King.
The Stanners and their eight new varsity players had lived through an up-and-down campaign, but found a renewed focus and resolve, especially in practice, after losing for a second time to the Royals in early February. They believed they were better than that and wanted to prove it.
“As a team, we felt we shouldn’t be losing the way we were [being beaten], and we knew we had to do something about it,” Manhattan-bound guard Nyasha Irizarry said.
Molloy went on to win four of its last six games, including a one-point loss to second-place Nazareth. Three of those victories came after falling to CK, and the wins earned Molloy an above .500 regular-season record and a spot in the CHSAA Class AA state playoffs.
It heads into the post season after grinding out a 63-42 win over host St. Francis Prep in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens girls’ basketball Monday.
“We had to show people that even though we had the biggest [roster] turnover in the league that we are going to be a force to be reckoned with,” guard Emer Maloney said. “We are not going to be pushed over all the time.”
The Stanners (12-11, 6-4) didn’t back down from a physical and much-improved Terriers team that trailed 27-17 at the half. Molloy used a 12-1 run over the third and fourth quarters to break open the game. Improved ball movement and spacing opened up the floor for Irizarry to create offensive opportunities for herself.
She scored 15 of her game-high 21 points in the second half. That included a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down that put her team ahead 50-34 midway through the fourth quarter.
“We moved into doing more of what we do,” Molloy Coach Scott Lagas said.
Aryn McClure scored 10 points, Maloney had nine and Kaitlyn McMahon added eight. Nicole Tetta tallied six key points in the second quarter. Kayla Hourany led St. Francis Prep with 15 points, Elizabeth Zullo had 11 and Sofia Recupero added eight for the Terriers. Molloy’s supporting cast made a difference when the Terriers (10-14, 2-8) succeeded in limiting Irizarry and McClure’s scoring early in the game.
“Since we’ve been pushing each other, I think everyone has been getting used to the speed, and they’ve come in and they’ve produced for us big,” Irizarry said.
Molloy is hoping for a big finish to its year as the diocesan playoffs get under way Feb. 25 with a quarterfinal game against Mary Louis. Its loss to Christ the King sparked the Stanners’ best basketball of the season.
“That was when we turned the corner.” Maloney said.