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Gritty Molloy heads to first semifinal in 14 years

By Joseph Staszewski

Winning pretty just isn’t Archbishop Molloy’s thing.

“That’s not what we do,” freshman guard Cole Anthony said. “We come in the gym and we win games.”

The Stanners will need to win just two more to earn their first CHSAA Intersectional boys’ basketball since 1987, after a workman-like 53-43 win over Iona Prep in the quarterfinals at Fordham University Sunday. Molloy heads to its first semifinal since 2002, after closing out another tight game. The experience helps the players raise the stakes higher.

“It’s not pretty, but it’s effective,” Stanners coach Mike McCleary said. “We’ve won 22 games and I don’t know if there have been a whole lot that have been by [more than] 10 points.”

Anthony scored 12 of his game-high 19 points in the first half, keeping Molloy afloat as his teammates struggled offensively. It was finally sophomore wing Khalid Moore who came alive after the break on both ends of the floor. Molloy finally put a back-and-forth game away in the fourth quarter, closing the game on a 16-10 run after Iona closed the gap to 37-33 on a basket by Bryce Wills with 7:00 left in regulation. Moore got the spurt going with a three-pointer, attacked the basket and blocked shots down the other end. He finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and four steals. Issac Granted chipped in 10 points.

“I feel like I got it going in the second quarter and [then] I had a chance to pick up my team so we can win,” Moore said.

In addition, he held Iona standout Patrick Fleming to just nine points. The Gaels finished 12-16. McCleary feels his team doesn’t get enough credit for how good it is defensively. All of that starts with Moore, who is always assigned to guard the other team’s top scorer.

“Every game he holds them under their average,” McCleary said. “He does it every game. When he scores [in addition] we are pretty good.”

The Stanners led just 24-21 at the half and 35-31 after three quarters, but found a way to push themselves into its first semifinals since 2001. Molloy takes on Xaverian for the fourth time this season 6 p.m. March 8 at St. John’s University. Molloy recently beat the Clippers, who upset Cardinal Hayes in the Brooklyn/Queens diocesan semifinals. The Stanners believe they can do it again.

“As confident as ever,” Anthony said. “It’s just another game. We just have to win it.”

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