By Joseph Staszewski
Cole Anthony saw Khalid Moore losing focus after he missed the first of two free throws in the closing seconds, with Archbishop Molloy needing just one to put Bishop Loughlin away.
The freshman point guard walked over to the sophomore at the line and offered him a little encouragement that was sealed with a tap of Moore’s left cheek.
“I said ‘Yo Khalid, stop worrying about the crowd and stop worrying about everyone speaking to you,’” Anthony said. “I said, ‘Get your head in the game. Hit these free throws and let’s win this game.’”
Moore, who scored a game-high 21 points, hit the second with 7.2 ticks remaining to finish the Stanners’ 67-63 home win over the Lions in CHSAA Brooklyn-Queens boys’ basketball Tuesday. Moore and Anthony push each other regularly.
“I knew I had to make the free throws,” Moore said. “I just tried to stay focused and do my best to make the shots.”
The win started a big week off on the right foot. Molloy (7-1, 1-0) has a chance to gain sole possession of first place in the division when three-time defending “AA” Intersectional champion Christ the King visits Briarwood on Friday. On Sunday the Stanners go to the Bronx to face Archdiocesan leader St. Raymond.
“We came into this league [schedule] trying to prove we are the best in the league,” senior forward Issac Grant said. “It’s not over though. We’ve got to beat everybody else.”
His club took a 62-57 lead on a 3-point play by Moore with 3:03 left in the game. It struggled to close out the game until the final seconds, despite Loughlin star guards Keith Williams (14 points) having fouled out and Markquis Nowell (12 points) missing most of the second half with a sprained ankle. The Lions, who have a win over CK, were down just three with 1:28 to go, after a three-point play by Jordan Thomas (13 points). Loughlin (7-3, 3-1) did not score again.
In the first half of the game, it was Molloy which had to do the rallying, however. Thanks to turnovers, the Stanners trailed 14-2 in the first quarter, but began causing Lions’ miscues that led to fast-break points. The Stanners closed the half on an 8-0 run to go into the break tied at 36-36.
The 6-foot-5 Grant helped them take control of the game in the third quarter, scoring nine of his 19 points in the frame. His layup in traffic with 3:00 remaining tied the score at 46-46. A layup by Anthony at the buzzer made it 53-46 for Molloy going to the fourth. Grant felt he needed to step up his play to further breathe life into his team.
“I know if I play tough, they play tough,” he said. “Start of the second half I came out and played hard, like I was the catalyst of the team.”
The young Stanners, who have shown maturity beyond their years, never trailed again. Moses Brown chipped in nine points, eight rebounds and six blocks. Anthony had eight points, 12 rebounds, four blocks and three steals. Their efforts were enough for the Stanners to secure an important league win.
“Besides being young, we are still very tough mentally,” Anthony said. “That’s how we were able to pull through and win this game.”