By Joseph Staszewski
Isaac Grant walked off to a standing ovation as calmly as he went about the business of sending Archbishop Molloy to the diocesan title game.
“Very easy going,” Stanners coach Mike McCleary said. “His nickname is Breeze. I always say that I hate calling him that because I’d rather he be a beast.”
He was exactly that when it mattered most.
The 6-foot-6 senior forward scored eight of his 16 points, including the 1,000th of his career in the Stanners’ big fourth quarter to lead his team to a 63-47 victory over Xaverian in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens boys’ basketball semifinals on Feb. 24 at St. Francis Prep. Molloy outscored the Clippers 23-8 in the final frame.
Family and friends in the stands cheered him loudly and his teammates applauded him as he walked off in the final seconds with Molloy finally safely ahead.
“It felt great,” Grant said. “I felt like that man, but it is not yet.”
The is because top-seeded Molly will try to win its first diocesan crown since 2002 when it takes on No. 3 Bishop Loughlin 7:30 p.m. Friday back at St. Francis Prep. The Stanners won both meetings in the regular season and plan on continuing its special season.
“It’s a real honor to bring Molloy back to the glory that is once had,” freshman guard Cole Anthony said.
It was Anthony that changed his team’s fortune after a sluggish first half that saw Grant and center Moses Brown in foul trouble. He scored Molloy’s first 11 points of the third quarter, including three 3-pointers to clip the Xaverian (14-11) lead to just 37-32 with 5:16 to play in the frame. Xaverian coach Jack Alesi said you could see Molloy’s whole demeanor change after that.
“We needed a spark,” Anthony said. “I just hit that first shot. I was like, ‘Alright, let me try again.’ And it kept going on from there.”
An 8-2 run to close the frame put Molloy (21-4) up 40-39 heading to the fourth and Grant too it from there. He scored his 1,000th on a layup as part of an 11-2 spurt that put the game away. Khalil Rhodes and Nyontay Wisseh led Xaverian with 13 points.
While Anthony may have been tops in points, Molloy only has one true leader and they followed him to the championship game.
“I know Cole made some big shots to get us back into the ball game,” McCleary said. “But the pulse of the team is Isaac.”