By Joseph Staszewski
Archbishop Molloy began anew last season from a team that won the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens regular season title. The Stanners got off to a slow start as nine new varsity players got used to playing with each other and at the highest level, but jelled late and earned a return trip to the diocesan title game. There were no such growing pains this time around as Molloy, which has five seniors, has its eyes set on bringing home the crown.
“Last year was a learning curve,” Queens College-bound point guard Kaitlyn Mahon said. “We weren’t really ready to play on that level. Now we are ready. We are ready to compete for the championship.”
The Stanners will have to make up for the scoring from Nyasha Irizarry, who is now at Manhattan College and the defense of Sarah Duryea. What Molloy does have is the most experienced team in Brooklyn/Queens with four starters returning. Quinnipiac-bound wing Aryn McClure will again be the focal point.
The versatile senior will get to play small forward, her natural position, with the addition of 6-foot transfers Emily Johnson (Carey) and Jane Walsh (Eleanor Roosevelt). Starting center Emily Peckham returns and has improved offensively. Even so, Molloy coach Scott Lagas expects a little more scoring from McClure, who knows she won’t have to do everything for the Stanners to win.
“I feel like we have to do less this season,” McClure said.
Mahon and shooting guard Emer Moloney may have grown up the most over the last year. Mahon is a steadying force at the point and hard to turn over. Moloney has emerged as a confident scorer and will have to do more of it with Irizarry’s 20-plus points per game no longer a given.
“They both had great summers,” Lagas said. “They both worked really hard on their game. They learned how to become more aggressive.”
His team is already off to a strong start. Molloy beat Kellenberg 58-28 in its season opener behind 13 points from Maloney. It then started league play by holding off Nazareth on the road 54-43 as Mahon netted 14 points. An 18-point performance from Kathryn Gibson pushed the Stanners past St. Mary’s (LI). It set an early tone that Molloy has the tools to make another run at a title.
“We are ready,” Moloney said. “We are ready to win the championship. We have the group here.”