The hole was just too big for the Archbishop Molloy girl’s basketball team to claw out of.
The Stanners suffered their first loss of the season on Thursday night, falling 68-66 to Bishop Loughlin in a BQCHSAA tilt. Molloy trailed by double digits in the first half, but came back to take a late-game lead in the fourth quarter before giving up the game-winning basket with 5.6 seconds on the clock.
“I think we told them is that we were proud of the way they fought back,” Stanners coach Scott Lagas said. “But we lost that game in the first quarter. We didn’t come out ready to play and they got us into foul trouble.”
Molloy was whistled for seven team fouls in the first eight minutes of play as the Lady Lions forced the ball into the paint and attacked the basket.
It was exactly what the Stanners expected, but the squad still struggled to slow down Loughlin.
“We knew they were going to try and attack us off the dribble and get us into foul trouble,” Lagas said. “We prepared for it and we just didn’t execute.”
Molloy did its best to execute some halftime adjustments – down 33-25 at the break – and the Stanners got a spark down low as sophomore forward Tori Hall stepped up, quite literally, on the block.
Hall helped the Stanners chip away at Loughlin’s lead, crashing the board and keeping offensive plays alive. Jenna Mastellone gave Molloy a 41-40 lead with 1:30 left in the third quarter, going on her own five-point run.
The two squads battled back and forth in the early-minutes of the fourth – with Molloy jumping out to a 54-49 lead with just over two minutes left after Mastellone drained a three-pointer. Loughlin, however, would not away quietly.
Lions senior guard Lynette Taitt led the charge in the waning minutes of the game, scoring 10 of her 28 points in the final six minutes of play, including the game-winner.
“I just heard my coach yell ‘Let’s go’ and I knew I had to put it on my shoulders,” said Taitt, whose first final-seconds shot was blocked. “So I went to the basket, faked and I just jelly’ed it and prayed for it to go in the basket.”
Molloy had one final chance to get the ball in the hoop, but the Stanners’ attempt came up short, failing to even hit the rim as time expired.
In the end, the Stanners simply couldn’t pull away or find an answer for Loughlin’s shooters. In addition to Taitt, Lions’ sophomore guard Laysha De La Santos also finished with 28 points.
“They had the points,” Lagas said. “And they’re sensational players, but you can’t let that happen.”
The Stanners hope the game was a defensive wakeup call of sorts, a call to arms heading into the rest of the regular season. It’s still early in the year, but Molloy knows games like this can’t happen often.
“They’ve got to work as hard defensively as anything else,” Lagas said. “High school basketball is about defending and sometimes that’s a hard thing to get through to kids.”