By Patrick McCormack
Archbishop Molloy Coach Mike McCleary’s assessment of his team’s effort against St. Peter’s was short, to the point and spot on.
“I am disappointed,” he said. “I was hoping we were going to play better.”
Instead, the Stanners struggled in a 79-68 loss to Archdiocesan runner-up St. Peter’s in the CHSAA Class AA Intersectional boys’ basketball quarterfinals at Fordham University Sunday.
The Molloy defense struggled early as the Eagles used the sharp shooting of junior Reilly Walsh, who had 11 of his game-high 24 points in the first quarter, to take a 22-9 lead at the end of one quarter.
St. Peter’s continued the offensive pressure in the second frame and opened up a 33-15 lead on a three from senior Latrell Curtis, who scored 22 points. Molloy (20-7) showed some fight and narrowed the score to 33-22. The high-powered St. Peter’s offense, which had eight threes in the first half, was too much for the struggling Molloy defense.
The Eagles (27-3) took a 41-23 lead at halftime. McCleary gave credit to Walsh and Curtis, who scored his 1,000th point in the contest, after the game, but also said his team played poorly.
“Curtis was very strong going to the basket and Walsh shot the ball extremely well from the perimeter,” he said. “We didn’t defend well especially on their shooters. They shot the ball very well. I think when we got defense stops we lost the ball, and they got some putbacks. We didn’t defend our rim or the perimeter very well. Today was a poor defensive effort.”
Molloy had some bright spots on the day. Junior Warren D’ante led the Stanners with 17 points. Columbia University-bound guard C.J. Davis added 13 points in the loss. Davis believed his team had trouble converting plays.
“I thought we needed to execute more and play more like a team,” Davis said. “I thought we got it right towards the end of the game and we should have come out stronger.”
Overall, McCleary was pleased with the way his team competed in its first full season without legendary Coach Jack Curran, who died last March, but he wanted to see the team go further in the CHSAA playoffs. Molloy lost in the quarterfinals last season, too.
“We had a good season,” McCleary said. “It is unfortunate it ends like this with us not playing well because we played well for most of our season. We had some incredible wins against some very good teams. It would have been nice to get to another game, but overall the kids did a nice job this year.”