By Laura Amato
Moses Brown can dunk the ball. He’s 7 feet tall, making it fairly easy.
The Archbishop Molloy junior star dunks the ball pretty often, but he might have notched his favorite Friday night.
Brown slammed down a one-handed jam late in the game, leaving the standing-room only crowd in Briarwood stunned as the Stanners notched a 78-67 come-from-behind victory over Christ the King.
The play came just moments after Brown was on the wrong end of a Kofi Cockburn slam, but the Stanners star didn’t let it get to him – he simply answered in kind.
“I felt like I had to,” said Brown, who finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds. “[Cockburn] got to the rim and I just knew I couldn’t get my head down, just get back and dunk it.”
It was an electric atmosphere from the opening tip, but Molloy (7-3, 3-1) struggled to find a rhythm and while the Stanners got Christ the King (3-2, 7-4) into foul trouble early, the squad couldn’t take advantage.
Molloy shot just 8-of-19 from the line in the first half – and 30-of-51 by the final whistle – and going into the break down 32-29, the Stanners were all too aware they’d left points on the floor.
“That’s our Achilles heel,” Molloy coach Mike McCleary said. “Nineteen foul shots in the first half is a great number, that’s a fantastic number. Fifty foul shots for a game is an unbelievable number, making 30 is still a good number, but you can’t make 30 out 50.”
Christ the King won each of the first three quarters – bolstered by a dominant performance from Tyson Walker, who finished with 27 points – but the Stanners made a handful of halftime adjustments, looking to get an edge.
That edge came in the form of a full-court press, attacking from every angle, forcing Christ the King into traps and, most importantly, turnovers.
“What it ended up doing was forcing guys to make moves that don’t want to, who don’t want the ball,” guard Cole Anthony said. “That’s what killed them.”
Molloy wrapped up the third quarter on a 7-2 run and cut the deficit to just two points with eight minutes remaining. As far as the Stanners were concerned, it was more than enough time to seize control of the game. They did just that.
Khalid Moore opened up the fourth with three straight points and Anthony made it a 54-51 lead with just over five minutes left to play.
“Khalid turned up this game, best game of the season, and I was, like, we have to match his intensity,” said Anthony, who finished with 23 points. “I told that to everyone on the team and we just started playing harder.”
Brown’s game-changing dunk came with 2:54 left to play, drawing the foul and sinking the free throw to make it an 11-point cushion. The crowd didn’t stop screaming until the buzzer.
“The move he made before that, the spin move, I thought that was even better than the dunk,” McCleary said. “We said, finish the play, make the foul shot and he did. That kind of separates you from the other team.”
It’s a statement victory for the Stanners, a come-from-behind performance that showcased the squad’s strengths. They’ll shoot free throws for the foreseeable future, but Molloy is as confident as ever.
“I think, ultimately, we wanted it more,” Anthony said. “If we can play like this all year, I don’t see anyone stopping us. At all.”