Short-handed Stanners learning from mid-season adversity

By Joseph Staszewski

Archbishop Molloy’s most trying portion of the season will make it better for its most important part of the season.

The Stanners girls’ basketball team started the year 8-1 and garnered a national ranking with wins over defending state Federation Class AA champions Long Island Lutheran and upstate power Ossining. Molloy has been seriously shorthanded since then.

Quinnipiac-bound wing Aryn McClure was suspended for key league games against Christ the King and Bishop Loughlin after being ejected from the win over Lutheran. Starting guard Kathryn Gibson has missed five games with a left knee injury. She and Queens College-bound guard Emer Moloney (ankle), who missed one game, are out until at least February.

“It’s a big challenge,” McClure said. “Other people have to step up. This should be a big time for our team to see if we break down or if we prevail.”

Molloy has still fared well despite the injuries. It has gone 3-2 during that stretch, including a gutty 50-43 overtime victory over Staten Island Academy Saturday during the Super Jam at Nazareth. It lost to both Christ the King and Loughlin at home, but fell by just four points to the Lions with both McClure and Gibson out of the lineup.

“It’s a little bit good for us,” Molloy coach Scott Lagas said. “We are going to have to fight through adversity and the girls are going to have to figure it out. It will only make us better when it comes time for February and the playoff run.”

McClure’s importance was evident against SIA. She scored 12 of her 20 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and had 14 points from the free throw line. McClure missed a layup, stole the ball immediately back and made two free throws with 15.2 seconds left to regulation to tie the scored at 40.

“She put the team on her back,” said Queens College-bound guard Kaitlyn Mahon, who scored seven points.

The adversity has also allowed new players to emerge and others to step into bigger roles. Moloney really picked up her scoring and energy until she got hurt and shooter Taylor Kurs, who had 11 points against Staten Island Academy, has also emerged.

While it is easy to see the impact that three starters out of the lineup would have on your offense, Lagas feels it has hurt their defense the most. Moloney is the team’s top perimeter defender and McClure its best inside presence.

All of it is teaching the Stanners to overcome having things missing from their arsenal. It should leave them better equipped and battle hardened when it is time to make a run at a diocesan and CHSAA state title.

“It’s always about March for us,” Lagas said. “It’s about continuing to survive through this tough stretch of adversity with missing players and hopefully getting everyone back on the same page by for the stretch run in March.”

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