By Joseph Staszewski
When Cole Anthony had the ball stolen away from him in the closing seconds of Archbishop Molloy’s face-off with Bishop Loughlin, it led to a go-ahead hoop for Loughlin.
But the Molloy freshman put that behind him, and ended up stealing something even more important from the Lions. His put-back, with 17 seconds left in the game, of the rebound of a free-throw miss was enough to give the Stanners an important 72-71 victory at Loughlin in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens boys’ basketball Tuesday. His prior mistake left him “200 percent” more determined to make things right.
“He didn’t box me out,” said Anthony, who scored a game-high 27 points. “I just got a quick bounce in my legs. I was feeling it a little bit. I just went up and got the rebound and I know what I have to do. I had a bad turnover before that. I had to make it up right there.”
Molloy (16-3, 11-2) still had to sweat out the final seconds as Loughlin (13-4, 9-2) had three shots at the winning hoop, including a Keith Williams put-back at the horn that fell short. The win puts the Stanners, who lost to Christ the King for the second time on Sunday, in first place in the division and in control of its own destiny because it beat the Lions twice. Molloy coach Mike McCleary made the game’s importance crystal clear.
“If you want first place, you’ve got to get this game,” he said. “We’ve still got a bunch to go, but that was a big deal.”
He has watched his young club tough out a number of key wins this season, including one at Xaverian last Tuesday. Loughlin has made a habit of comeback wins, but Molloy was able to hold them off.
“We matched their toughness,” McCleary said. “Considering we have a bunch of young guys playing against a bunch of upperclassmen, that was a tough game. You have to be a man out there getting a rebound.”
Molloy came up with the two biggest boards of the game. Loughlin, which trailed 68-61 with 2:41 to play in the game, couldn’t corral a long board off a Stanners miss, after Marquise Nowell’s steal and score off Anthony with 40 seconds left. The Stanners, down 71-69, got the ball back and Justin Cole was fouled. He made one of two free throws. Anthony grabbed the board, took one strong dribble and finished strong.
“That was a big shot,” Moore said.
Moore scored 16 points for his second straight game this season against Loughlin. Defensively he helped slow down Lions star Keith Williams, who had 11 of his 20 points after the first quarter.
Issac Grant had 11 points and Moses Brown chipped in nine for Molloy. Marquise Nowell had 15 points and Idan Tretout chipped in 12 for Loughlin, but it wasn’t enough. The Stanners leapt over the Lions in the standings.
“That was the biggest one we’ve had this year,” Moore said. “That was a very important win for us because we can probably finish in first.”