MIDDLE VILLAGE, NY- It was the Battle for Queens bragging rights at the Apparel Challenge in a CHSAA vs. PSAL battle on Sunday as Archbishop Molloy challenged Queens H.S. of Teaching in what many thought would be the game of the day from Christ the King H.S.
Things don't always turn out the way you think though as from the very start it was obvious that the Stanners size inside, and skill from the outside, was far superior on this day as led by Moses Brown '18 down low and Cole Anthony '19 from the perimeter Molloy were able to grab a 24-point lead at the half and roll the rest of the way 92-60.
Going in many looked at this game as a true challenge for Archbishop Molloy, including head coach Mike McCleary who felt that this would be a real test for his team going in.
"I thought it was going to be a tough, tough game," McCleary said. "I thought it would be physical and a game that could prove to be a challenge for us."
Ultimately though their size proved to be too much, and from the get go that was clear from the get go as Brown imposed his will on the game from the very start as he along with the long-range shooting of Jackson Vertucci '17 and Khalid Moore '18 enabled the Stanners to build a double-digit lead less than 4 minutes into the game.
It only got worse from there as John Herring '17 was a valuable weapon on the offensive glass for Molloy, and the lead continued to grow. C.J. Kelly '17 picked up his 3rd personal foul with 6:52 to go in the half, and while he didn't sit because of the Tigers deficit, he didn't have the impact the rest of the quarter the way that QHST would've hoped.
Back to back throw downs by Brown expanded the Molloy lead and it was a full-on blowout at the half as the Stanners took a 53-29 lead into the locker room.
As good as Molloy played in the opening half this shouldn't have been as foreign to them as it seems to be. They have been in close games all year long and this is the kind of effort that Anthony says he has been expecting from his team all year.
"We are such a talented group that we should be doing things every game," Anthony stated.
He has been wanting and hoping to put more teams away early, and they did that plus more on Sunday as Anthony added that he felt after getting up early that the Stanners took all the heart away from Queens H.S. of Teaching.
They didn't take their foots off the gas in the 3rd quarter either as the Stanners continued to take it to QHST with Moore using his athleticism to get to the rim, along with Brown getting entry feed to finish with authority.
While the lead for Molloy kept growing you have to give credit to both Kelly and William Ellis '17 as neither quit on the game, and while clearly overmatched against the depth, size, and overall athletic abilities of the Stanners, they did have their moments of finding ways to get to the rim and go straight at Brown down low.
Time and time again though it was Brown who was able to get the ball down low and score, and it was a 30-point lead for the Stanners after three, and while the game was for all intents and purposes over at that point, Archbishop Molloy kept pushing for more.
Joseph Hoch '18 knocked down a pair of threes in the 4th as the bench players for both teams saw more and more time on the floor, and even though they looked like they could've gone for 100 points in this one, the Stanners called off the dogs late rolling in the end to a 92-60 victory.
It was a truly dominating effort for the Stanners led by the 20 points of Brown, while Moore added 17 points, and Anthony chipped in with a strong 15 points.
Ellis paced Queens H.S. of Teaching in the loss with 18 points, while Kelly was hampered throughout with foul trouble and was limited to 16 points.
The fact that Archbishop Molloy won may not be a shock to many due to the fact that they have 3 future Division 1 players leading the way, but they fact they won so handily really made a statement that they are a team that is going to be a force the rest of the year.
After beating Christ the King on Friday, and now downing QHST on Sunday, the Stanners now head into Tuesday's game with Bishop Loughlin full of confidence, and while it may be a tough one, McCleary is happy about what he is seeing from his group now.
"I thought the top seven guys played really well for us today. A lot of positives definitely came out of this."
Long Island Lutheran Manhandles Cardozo, 80-53
It may have been a subpar effort for Long Island Lutheran standards, but even after a somewhat shaky start the Crusaders were able to roll to the 27-point win.
LuHi could grab an early lead to start the game against the Judges, but they weren't shooting as well from the perimeter missing several three balls in the opening half, and allowing Cardozo to stay in the game.
Up by just 12 late in the 2nd quarter, Crusaders head coach John Buck called a timeout and really imploring his squad to give a stronger effort.
"Just on the defensive end we were silent and we weren't encouraging each other," Buck said about his team's first half effort. "We weren't demanding much from each other and we weren't communicating about where we had to be. I don't know why, snow day maybe."
Yesterday's snow may have caused LuHi to come out slow, but they finished the half strong scoring the last 7 points to take a 35-16 lead at the break and that was just the start of a big 3rd that put things away.
Chris Coalmon '17 would connect on a trey to make it a 25-point lead with 4:33 to go in the 3rd quarter, and with Donatas Kupsas '18 pushing off defensive rebounds in the open floor, there was just no stopping the Crusaders as the game wore on.
Esam Mostafa '19 was dominant on the glass and the lead would grow to as much as 34 in the 4th before the benches cleared signaling the true end of the game with 2:37 to go.
Vintage Long Island Lutheran it may not have been, but even not at their best they showed that they are clearly among the best in New York, dominating their way to the 80-53 win.
Kupsas led LuHi with 16 points, while Coalmon and Brandon Jacobs '17 both added 13 points apiece to help pace the Crusaders.
Javen Soto '17 and Dejavaughn Utley '18 were the leader for Cardozo as they each had 10 points in the defeat that sees the Judges now be losers of 5 of their last 6 games.
Happy with his team's effort in the win, Buck still does see room for his LuHi team to improve as the year goes on, but he is currently happy with how hard his group plays, always striving for more, something that leaves him smiling at the end of the day.
"This is easily one of the most coachable teams I have ever had. They are always willing to learn and want to get better. I love that about this team."