QUEENS, N.Y. — In the first game of the Brooklyn-Queens AA Division semi-final between Archbishop Molloy and Bishop Loughlin, the Stanners were able to hold off the Lions for a 63-58 victory to advance to the division final on Friday.
Molloy was really dominant on the inside as they usually are with 7-foot-2 Moses Brown in perfect position nearly every time. It’s the third time this season that Archbishop Molloy defeated Bishop Loughlin as they also beat them by 14 and 20 points respectively during the regular season.
With the exception of Molloy coming out on top, this game was a lot different from the previous two meetings between these ball clubs. This time Loughlin looked like the more poised and active team to start the game.
Early on, junior guard William Lee was on target from the three point line as he was able to knock down two first quarter threes to put Loughlin in front 10-6. The defensive rotation from Loughlin was what made this game competitive. The activity in the passing lane on the zone defense created problems for Molloy on the perimeter.
Loughlin was capable of slowing down explosive junior guard Cole Anthony as he was just 0-for-3 from the field in the opening quarter. Loughlin also did a great job swarming Brown as he had nowhere to turn on occasions. At the end of the first quarter Bishop Loughlin led Molloy 17-12.
In the first half of the second quarter, it was more of the same as Loughlin’s Champagnie twins did a good job cutting to the basket to find either each other or 6-foot-9 junior big man Chad Venning. Loughlin possessed a surprising 25-16 advantage as they went on 13-4 run that started in the first quarter and continued into the second quarter.
Molloy, as expected, responded in a big way as Khalid Moore and Brown continued to dominate on the offensive glass. In the blink of an eye, a nine point Loughlin lead had been trimmed to just one at 25-24. Molloy ended the first half on a 15-5 run as they led 31-30.
“It was just an energy boost by our guys,” Molloy head coach Mike McCleary said. “We got a couple of turnovers, made a few stops in a row.”
Molloy continued their run to start the second half as Moore connected on a jumper to put Molloy up 33-30 and on their next possession Brown continued his dominance on the offensive glass with a put back slam.
“We just had to play together,” Brown said after the game. “We had to play harder than they did, they were coming out to beat us, it’s hard to beat a team three times.”
Hard is the right word. Every time it looked like Molloy created separation, Loughlin had an answer. When Molloy scored the first two baskets of the third quarter to go up 35-30 it put them on a 19-5 run. Loughlin did not quit, however, as they made a couple key stops which led to two baskets by Justin Champagnie to cut the Molloy advantage to 35-34. Molloy then got a small boost from an unlikely source as senior guard Ray Diaz hit a baseline jumper and a 3-pointer to keep the Lions at bay. However, the story of this game continued as Loughlin answered with the fourth 3-pointer by Lee to cut the Molloy lead to just two. Julian Champagnie then tied the game at 41 with a follow up slam. Molloy held to a slim 48-45 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Both teams exchanged blows as Moore made his presence felt once again. On one play, he caught the Loughlin defense sleeping as he caught an inbounds pass and scored on a lay up to put Molloy up 51-46 with 5:30 to play. Loughlin responded as Lee drove inside and dropped it off to Venning for the lay-in to cut the Molloy lead to three.
Once again, Loughlin struggled on the boards as Moore converted on a follow up slam to put Molloy up 53-48. Loughlin answered again as Justin Champagnie converted on a reverse lay up to once again pull the Lions to within three with 4:28 left.
Loughlin would finally get a rebound and took advantage of the opportunity as Julian Champagnie found Venning and the big man converted on a lay-up to cut the Molloy lead to a tenuous one point advantage.
Molloy went to Moore and he delivered to put Molloy up by three points once more. Loughlin’s Lee drove on Brown and paid the price as Lee’s floater was rejected by the UCLA commit, which then lead to a follow up dunk by Brown — putting Molloy up by five.
Once again, Loughlin refused to surrender as Lee was successful on his fifth 3-pointer, cutting the Molloy lead to two at 57-55 with exactly two minutes remaining. One man who was uncharacteristically off his game was Anthony, but that did not stop Molloy from putting their trust in him down the stretch. He failed to score on the drive but drew the foul and converted on both free-throws to put Molloy back up by four.
Loughlin had the ball down by four with exactly 1:00 left in regulation. Out of the timeout, Molloy did a great job defensively as Loughlin had to use nearly the entire shot clock, but Orrin Barfield committed a foul going for a steal at half court. It was a one-and-one situation as that was the seventh team foul on Molloy.
Lee would split the foul shots and a foul was called on Julian Champagnie as he was fighting with Brown for the rebound. Brown sank both foul shots to put Molloy up 61-56 with 35 seconds to play. Barfield would redeem himself by delivering the Coup De Grace as he stole the ball and Diaz made one shot from the charity stripe, and it was enough to put the game out of reach.
“Offensive rebounding and staying in the game mentally really helped me tonight,” Brown said, who scored a game-high 27 points.
Archbishop Molloy will take on Christ the King in the division championship game, a team they narrowly lost to twice this month.
“We have to clean up our mistakes,” McCleary said after the game. “We usually go on a 6-0 spurt, and then let the team right back into the ball game, we have to get more of a consistent effort on defense and get more consistent stops. Offensively, we turned the ball over for nothing so we must be more efficient on offense.”
(Highlights courtesy of Mars Reel)