BRIARWOOD, NY - Coming into the game on Sunday afternoon, most of Molloy's players had heard the hype surrounding their opponents, Bishop Loughlin.
Some weren't sure if the hype was justified though, and the Stanners went on to prove that either the hype needs to be tempered, or their names need to be thrown into that CHSAA elite list as well as they easily handled the Lions 95-78.
"Everyone kept talking about them a lot, and we didn't really see the hype." Molloy guard Jason Cethoute said.
The hype for Bishop Loughlin was that they had won 11 in a row, including the prestigious STOP-DWI Tournament championship, but it was a proving ground game for Molloy, one they surely passed and proved that when you talk about the CHSAA's best, you have to now mention the Stanners.
A part of the reason Molloy was able to dominate was the 2 early fouls picked up by Loughlin star guard Khadeen Carrington. Without the star on the floor, Loughlin suffered with only Mike Williams seemingly able to pick up the slack on the offensive end, something that was admittedly tough for the high scoring guard.
"It was tough because he's our leading scorer and when he went out I felt like I was out there by myself. I tried to find another offensive weapon but no one was answering so I felt like I had to take control." Williams said.
After being down just 20-15 after the 1st, the game got away from Loughlin quick in the 2nd quarter, and it was basically all because of Cethoute, who put in 16 points in the quarter as Molloy outscored the shorthanded Lions 28-14 in the period to go up 48-29 at the half.
Carrington came in to start the 3rd, and while he showed a little muscle offensively, providing a bit of a spark, the team overall still struggled mightily on the defensive end, not getting back and allowing many transition baskets for the Stanners. 6'5" Marko Kozul was a huge force on the glass, and showed the ability to step out and give Loughlin fits on the perimeter with his size.
Kozul though may have made his biggest contribution in the 4th quarter when Loughlin was making a run and had cut the game to 85-74, C.J. Davis had just missed a floater, but Kozul flew in from the weak side to tip it the miss and bring the lead back to 14, that was the start of a 7-0 Molloy run which for all intensive purposes midway through the 4th, ended all hope for the Lions as the Stanners would take the win 95-78.
Kozul led Molloy with 28 points and 16 rebounds, while Cethoute scored a career high 27 points as well. With Carrington in foul trouble for the entire first half for Bishop Loughlin, he didn't score his first points until 6 minutes to go in the 3rd quarter, and finished with just 14 points, while Williams led all scorers with a game high 30 points in the loss.
It's seems to be a different guy each game stepping up for Molloy, and with Cethoute's big game helping carry the way, that was just enforced again, something Kozul believes is no coincidence.
"You never know whose game it will be. We have a lot of talent on this team and you just have to come out and play hard and be ready because it can be any one of us who steps up." Kozul said.
Stanners head coach Jack Curran admitted that Cethoute has been looking good in practice lately, and seemed to take full advantage of the situation.
"He has been working really hard and earned the playing time because he really hasn't been getting much, but he deserved it and played very well today." Curran said.
The Carrington factor has to be taken into account as well. He only played 3 minutes in the first half, and the Lions, with him on the bench got into the huge hole they just couldn't get out of.
"It's always hurts when your leader goes out." Loughlin coach Ed Gonzalez said. "We missed a lot of defensive assignments as well though and we just didn't play well, but give Molloy a lot of credit. They were better today."
The fact that Molloy was the better team poses a question, should they be considered one of the best in the "AA"?
"We know we can play with anybody, and the kids think they can play with and beat anybody and that's a big thing, the belief." Curran said.
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