By Laura Amato
It took a few minutes, but once Archbishop Molloy settled into its game plan, the Stanners were off and running – literally.
Molloy cruised to a 97-76 victory over Bishop Loughlin Sunday afternoon, setting the tone and grabbing control of first place in the BQCHSAA standings.
“We stopped turning the ball over and once we did, we scored at a pretty good rate,” Molloy coach Mike McCleary said. “So when we decided to control the ball, we did a much better job of controlling the game.”
The Stanners (12-5, 7-2) jumped out to an 11-5 lead early in the first quarter, but Loughlin (12-4, 6-3) responded with a nine-point run to gain a 20-16 lead after the opening eight minutes.
Molloy answered in kind, however, staging its own 10-2 run midway through the second quarter, sparked by a physical effort on both sides of the ball, a faster tempo and strong drives in the lane.
“We were just playing a lot harder than usual,” said guard John Herring, who finished with 15 points. “I think that’s the key. We’ve got the talent, I think it’s just how hard you play.”
Moses Brown jumpstarted his squad down low, drawing double and triple teams and barely batting an eyelash, using the defense to his advantage as drained shots and drew fouls.
The 7-foot junior scored 11 of his 27 points in the first half and made it all but impossible for Loughlin to grab any momentum in the paint.
“He’s become such a great player in a short period of time,” McCleary said of Brown. “That’s all due to his work ethic. He wants to be so good so bad and anybody that’s going to work that hard is going to be special.”
Molloy took a 47-35 lead into the break and refused to slow down in the second half, padding a double-digit cushion throughout much of the third quarter.
The Stanners continued to drive the lane and draw contact, which led to a whopping 41 shots from the free throw line. Cole Anthony led the charge at the stripe, going a perfect 17-for-17 en route to tallying 29 points.
“I like to hold the rest of my team to a high standard and there’s no better way to do that than to lead by example,” said Anthony, who also hauled in six rebounds. “We stayed focused to come in and win this game right here.”
Anthony gave Molloy a 20-point lead with just under three minutes left in the third quarter. The Stanners controlled just about every angle of play, matching Loughlin push for push and, more often than not, pushing just a bit harder.
“We controlled the game midway through the first quarter until the end, really,” McCleary said. “Tempo-wise, keeping them off the backboard, keeping them out of the lane, contesting the lane, all that was the key to the victory.”
As Molloy looks towards the end of the regular season – and its city championship goal – a win like this doesn’t change much. If anything, it just means the Stanners want to work even harder, determined to continue to notch performances like this.
“It just lets us know how good we can be as a team,” Anthony said. “Now I’m going to hold the team to a higher standard than I did previously because this shows how good we can play together.”