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McClancy comes up short in bid for 1st win

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It had been a...

By Anthony Bosco

Before Sunday’s matchup against the Holy Cross Knights, Monsignor McClancy head coach Don Kent honored his team’s five seniors before the five started their final home game of the season against a team still in the hunt for first place.

It had been a long, hard road for the Crusaders coming into Sunday’s game, losing all 10 of the league games they had played. But seniors Nelson Tripp, Tramaine Stevens, Marc Pitts, Kevin Bishop and Anthony Olszewski did their best to return the favor and honor Kent with his first Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan win.

“The kids played their hearts out,” Kent said. “They were good kids, they practice hard. I felt in my heart, in my guts it was the right thing to do. As it turned out they gave us a spark. They brought a lot of determination. We weren’t trying to be a spoilers, we were trying to get our first league win.”

But they came up just short. Despite a tremendous first half which saw McClancy jump out to a 37-35 lead, the Knights battled back and held off the Crusaders late to win, 71-68.

“They were fired up,” Holy Cross coach Paul Gilvary said of McClancy. “They’ve struggled in the league, but they were still out there fighting. They outplayed us for most of the game.

“They came out and just gave a tremendous effort,” he added. “We have a little more experience than they do. Our kids got used to winning close games. They have some talent on that team.”

By the look of the game early, anyone in the gym would have been hard-pressed to guess that it was the Knights, not the Crusaders, who were just a game out of first place.

Kent, starting all five seniors, saw his team open a 7-0 lead behind baskets by Olszewski, Bishop and Stevens. Olszewski canned his second three to make it 10-2 and, following a Miguel Gonzalez basket, Stevens and Pitts extended the lead to 15-4 at the 3:10 mark of the first quarter.

“You try and talk to the players and warn them that every game in this league is dangerous, especially on the road,” Gilvary said. “You have to come out with a tremendous effort and energy. I thought McClancy came out with a lot of energy.”

The Knights quickly bounced back, however, as Chris Fileti hit three straight baskets, including two from beyond the arc, to close the gap to five, 17-12. After Bishop and Joe Marino traded baskets, Olszewski nailed his third trey of the quarter at the buzzer to give McClancy a 22-14 advantage after one.

Bishop and Stevens did all the scoring for McClancy in the second period, outscoring the Knights 15-11 in the quarter, extending the lead to 12.

It was only a matter of time, however, before the Knights made a game of it.

“We tried to shake things and get back in the game,” Gilvary said. “We played very well in the second half. We played with the effort and the intensity you need. Unfortunately, it wasn’t there in the first half.”

McClancy’s lead ballooned to 14, 39-25, on Stevens’ basket to open the half, but Cross began slowly pecking away at the lead.

Down 10, 50-40 at the 2:48 mark of the third, Cross went on a 12-4 run to end the quarter behind the play of Marino, Pierre Ward and Miguel Gonzalez, whose buzzer-beater pulled the Knights within two, 54-52.

Gilvary also credited senior Sean Wallace’s defense in the period, limiting Bishop, who had 17 in the first half, to just six points over the final two periods.

“I think the key to the game was the defensive job Sean Wallace on [Bishop] in the second half,” Gilvary said. “That was probably the difference.”

“We knew they were going to make adjustments,” Kent said. “To their credit they keyed on [Bishop]. He was doing a lot of damage to them.”

After Ward went 1-of-2 from the foul line to open the game, Marino scored five straight points for the Knights to give Cross its first lead of the game. Lackluster free throw shooting by the Crusaders allowed the Knights to extend the lead to eight, 64-56 with 4:11 remaining, but McClancy was not done yet.

Bishop’s basket with 1:18 remaining made it a one-point game, 65-64, and after Marino scored for the Knights, Bishme Allah scored on a put back to close the gap again in the final minute. Fileti and Gonzalez both went 2-for-2 from the line in the final minute and Gonzalez blocked Joe Vargas’ attempt to tie the game in the final seconds and Bishop’s desperation three at the buzzer missed the mark.

Marino was the difference for the Knights, scoring a game-high 33 points with 12 rebounds, while Fileti added 14. McClancy was led by Bishop and Stevens with 23 apiece.

“[Marino’s] just had a great season,” Gilvary said. “He’s really made himself into a terrific player. We really count on him to score and rebound. When you get in trouble you need your best players to step up. The timing was certainly very good.”

“If he doesn’t break out, we win the game,” Kent said.

The Knights improved to 17-5 overall and 7-3 in league play. After the team’s crucial game against first-place Christ the King Tuesday, it will close out the regular season Friday against Xaverian.

<b>Christ the King 60, New Castle (Pa.) 47.</b> Rob Barrett led with 23 points, Peedy Nelson scored 18 points and Japhet McNeil dished out seven assists in this non-league win Sunday, improving the team’s overall record to 14-8.

<b>Archbishop Molloy 64, St. Patrick (N.J.) 49.</b> Wendell Gibson scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in this Hofstra-bound senior’s first action since the team’s loss to St. Ray’s the week before. John Jermmott added 15 and John Masur contributed 13 as Molloy ran its record to 15-7.

<b>Holy Cross 69, St. Francis Prep 57.</b> Gonzalez had 21, Marino had 16 and Fileti had 11 for the winners, while Rashad Bell led St. Francis Prep with 25. Kevin White had 14 in a losing effort.

<b>Xavier 42, St. John’s Prep 34.</b> The Red Storm was downed courtesy of Michael Gibbons’ 15-point, 15-rebound performance for Xavier.

<b>Christ the King 56, Archbishop Molloy 53.</b> Barrett led with 17, Nelson added 14 and McNeil scored 10 for the Royals, who took over sole possession of first place with the win over Molloy Friday. Thomas Harrison led the Stanners with 13, Jermmott had 11 and Sikiric and Masur each scored 10. The Royals are now 8-2 in the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan, while Molloy fell to 7-3.

<b>Monsignor McClancy 65, Cardinal Spellman 48.</b> Stevens led the way with 21 and Bishop added 15 in the rare win for the struggling Crusaders, now 9-13 overall.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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