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November 2, 2013
BAYSIDE, NY - The Beacon 158 Back-to-School Classic came to a close on Friday night with the championship game being contested between Long Island Lutheran and Molloy.
The crowd was packed in with anticipation of a great game, and they got what they came for, with Molloy buckling down on defense, and getting revenge on a loss to the Crusaders during the Beacon regular season, and taking home the title with a 76-66 victory.
Molloy really turned up the defensive intensity from the start as they were suffocating in a 1-2-2 zone that was extremely effective. They rotated well and rarely let LuHi get off a clean look. The Stanners on the offensive end were able to get out and push tempo, while also showing an ability to score in a variety of ways.
Gabe Kilpatrick was really spot on from the outside in the early going, and Columbia bound point guard C.J. Davis did a fantastic job keeping defenders off balance. He was able to slash his way past two men, and then a couple trips down the floor later, he crossed over his man, and then around a screen nailed a 3 ball.
Jayson Cethoute was another valuable offensive weapon in transition for Molloy, and the defensive presence of Kenny Hoyt could not be underscored for the Stanners. While not all that big at 6'2", his strength in defending LuHi 6'9" big man Robyn Missa in the paint was extraordinary, plus he had a pair of big blocks that led to easy Molloy transition baskets.
After being tied at 6 in the early going, Molloy went on a 25-4 run in an 11 minute stretch midway through the first half to open up a commanding 33-10 lead.
LuHi was looking for a spark to just give them some hope of getting back into the game, and just quite frankly, not get wiped out. Luckily, they had Marvin Prochet on their side.
He carried the Crusaders on a personal 11-0 run, connecting on three 3's, all basically from the same spot on the left wing, to make it 33-21, and while they weren't what you would say "back in the game", they were giving themselves a chance.
Elijah Bailey, who had played so well for LuHi in this tournament to date, was quiet in the early stages, but he hit a three from the right side, and after he drove the lane and got fouled by Hoyt, he hit two FT's to make it 40-33 with 2:18 to go in the half, and it really was a game again.
Cethoute on the other end hit a huge three from the left corner that really seemed to stem the tide though. He scored 6 points in the final 2 minutes of the half, which really helped contain the momentum that Lutheran seemed to be gathering, and at the break, Molloy still held a 45-36 lead.
The lead for Molloy got down to just 5 when LuHi scored the first 4 of the half, but Davis was fouled on a three point shot on the wing. It was big because Davis connected on all 3 FT's, and then off a bad Crusaders pass, Kilpatrick hit a long two in the corner, as the Stanners had scored 5 points in the span of 12 seconds to push the lead back to 9 with 13 minutes to play.
The zone that Molloy was playing was not allowing any good looks from the perimeter. LuHi was having to score in transition or they were struggling. Plus, Hoyt was doing a fantastic job in the paint guarding Missa and Rojaye Campbell, who while having major size advantages, were getting pushed off their spots in the paint by the physicality of the Stanners forward.
Prochet was not getting touches either as the Molloy defense seemed to focus in on him, and containing his ability to beat them from the outside. The defense Molloy was playing, plus the shooting of Kilpatrick and Cethoute, was once again giving the Stanners control.
Aaron Walker was also coming into his own, as the sophomore was aggressively getting the ball into the lane, and scoring against the size of LuHi inside, with 6 of his points coming during a 12-3 run, and once again the Molloy lead was up to 16 at 71-55 with just 5:07 to play.
Losini Kamara, a young and talented freshman, was responsible for much of the offensive production for the Crusaders in the 2nd half, as his ability to create his own shot off the dribble was impressive, but they also missed too many 2nd and 3rd chances inside which really hurt their chances.
Davis though provided emotional, and physical leadership for Molloy that was invaluable. Throughout the game he was talking to teammates, and making his presence felt in a variety of ways. It was a 16 point game with just under 2 minutes to play when Long Island Lutheran subbed in bench players, signaling that for all intensive purposes, the game was over.
The LuHi players on the floor to their credit, all very young as well, did not quit, but this was the Stanners day, as they would celebrate as the final buzzer sounded, taking the Beacon 158 championship over LuHi, 76-66.
The win was truly based off of the defensive strategies that Molloy assistant coach Steve Borhi, who coached the team in the tournament, instilled in the team, and he knew that they were a major reason for the teams win.
"We started with this 1-2-2 late last season, and we came in today wanting to concentrate on our defense, and use that zone. We wanted to concentrate on that because everything they shot was from the wings. We played the zone very well today, we rotated well, and that truly was the key," Borhi said.
It was the key, and the stats backed that up. Outside of three 3's in a very short span by Prochet in the first half, Molloy only gave up 1 other made three the rest of the game.
Defense and teamwork got it done for the Stanners in the title game. Kilpatrick, an unsung hero, paced Molloy with 20 points in the game, including 4 threes, while Davis and Cethoute each added 15 points apiece as well in win.
In defeat, Long Island Lutheran was led by Prochet's game high 22 points, with Kamara chipping in 13.
LuHi had a great run, but they came up short against a hungry and tough Molloy squad, who according to Borhi, will try to use this tournament title as a springboard into the season.
"It's a nice way to go into the season," Borhi said. "Our focus here was just to see how we were going to look, and to see how we would do against some very strong competition. I think we did a nice job in proving to ourselves that we can compete with good teams, and to win the title is just a really great bonus."
New York NEWS