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Stanners shining through early-season adversity

The Archbishop Molloy girls’ basketball team is off to a strong start despite being hit with injuries.
Photo by Arnie Rosenbaum
By Joseph Staszewski

Winning though injuries has turned into a bizarre blessing for Archbishop Molloy

The Stanners lost five seniors, including four starters, to graduation from a team that fell in the Brooklyn/Queens and CHSAA “AA” state finals. The remaining roster has taken some hits as well.

Emily Peckham and Taylor Kurs haven’t played all season because of torn ACLs. Molloy coach Scott Lagas said there is a chance one or both will return before the season is over, but he is planning on being without them for the long haul. Three more players have also missed time because of injuries. The Stanners never felt sorry for themselves, but rallied around each other.

“It is kind of helping in an odd way,” Lagas said. “Girls are getting more of an opportunity and more time to work than they probably would have had we been healthy up until this point. That is going to help us overall to be a well-rounded team.”

Molloy, with just two active seniors, suited up just eight of its 15 players for a game against Elmont on Dec. 15. Still, the Stanners haven’t missed a beat and are off to an 8-1 start after beating Massapequa and Immaculate Heart Academy (NJ) at the Francis Lewis Winter Ball last weekend.

“We are a young team” senior guard Kathryn Gibson said. “We lost five key seniors last year and we had two awful injuries. To go 8-1, and we are not even playing our best basketball, is pretty surprising and it is a great feeling.”

Her team has league wins over St. Francis Prep and Nazareth and beat Ridge View, one of the top teams in South Carolina. Molloy’s only loss is to Moore Catholic, during which guard Margarita Kilpatrick injured her ankle.

It was the Nazareth game that proved to this roster how good it could be. Molloy rallied from 15 points down in the third quarter.

“That was a really big boost for us,” Gibson said.

As one player went down another stepped up. The most important thing has been the maturation of junior wing Jenna Mastellone, who transferred in from Notre Dame (Manhattan) last year. Junior forward Emily Johnson has also filled in well for Peckham.

Mastellone dropped in 18 points in the win over Massapequa and followed that up with 14 to help the Stanners top Immaculate Heart.

“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Mastellone said. “I had to contribute something. I think it’s been working.”

What has been working for the Stanners is that everyone is simply playing their role. Gibson is the team’s leading scorer, Keely McEachern is excelling, and point guard and forward Abigail Duvivier is producing in the paint.

Despite it all, Molloy has quietly flown under the radar in New York City with Christ the King, Bishop Loughlin and Mary Louis getting much of the attention. The Stanners are just fine with that for now, but it won’t last much longer.

“No one really expected us to be as good as I think that we are right now,” Gibson said. “I don’t think we are at our best yet.”

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