By Stephen Zitolo
Struggling Mary Louis forward Celeste Moran had something to prove to coach JoAnn Arbitello and herself after being taken out of the starting lineup.
The junior began the year as a starter, but was moved to the bench recently after mid-season struggles. Moran knows Arbitello has great expectations for her and she lived up to them against Woodlands.
Moran was instrumental in the Hilltoppers’ 52-33 win over Woodlands Saturday at the Super Jam girls’ basketball event at Nazareth. She commanded the post and gave the Woodland bigs a lot of trouble. She was Mary Louis’ high scorer with 10 points and four rebounds. Moran followed that up with 11 points and six rebounds in a loss to nationally ranked Bishop McNamara (Md.) Sunday. Sophomore Kayla Podlovits was also a key contributor against Woodlands with nine points and five boards on the night.
“I feel like we really needed this win after a tough loss to Molloy,” Moran said. “Coach gave us a lot of encouragement before the game and we came out and got the win.”
Mary Louis’ dominating performance started from the get go as they jumped out to a 17-2 lead in the first quarter. The Hilltoppers were ahead, but lost starting junior guard Jasmine Brunson to a wrist injury for the rest of the game. Brunson did not play the next game and has a badly bruised wrist, according to Arbitello. Courtney McCool will take over the point guard duties in her absence.
Brunson was not needed against Woolands. By halftime, the Hilltoppers’ lead would grow as large as 27-7. Woodlands was out of the contest at that point and Mary Louis (5-5) cruised to victory.
“We worked hard on our rebounding and passing in practice,” Arbitello said. “I told them that we could run as many offensives sets as we want, but if we cannot do the little things we are not going to win games. I think they really understood that and came out today and played really strong.”
Mary Louis has recently got back one of it key players and leaders. Senior guard Kadijah Dickson returned earlier this month from a torn ACL She is coming off the bench right now, but is a big boost for TMLA.
“We are working on getting her more and more minutes each game,” Arbitello said. “She played more minutes than she thought she would tonight, but it worked to her advantage and our advantage in this game.”
The Hilltoppers have a tough four-game stretch coming up against some of their division’s toughest opponents. They will play two games against Loughlin, one against Molloy, and one against Christ the King.
“I feel like if we keep working hard and playing like a team we will be fine versus these teams,” Morgan said.