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McClancy scores first league win in 2 years

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Elvis Damjanovic played like a man possessed. The 6-foot-4 Forest Hills native crashed the boards, fought for loose balls and drove to the basket with an intensity usually reserved for a playoff game. A league win was within reach and he was not going to let the opportunity slip by.

His hard work paid off.

The Monsignor McClancy Crusaders snapped a two-year league losing streak Sunday, defeating the St. Francis Prep Terriers, 70-54. It was the first league win for the team’s seniors — Damjanovic included — since the first league game of their freshman year, a win over Bishop Loughlin.

“It’s like winning an NBA championship,” said Damjanovic, who finished with 18 points. “Everyone just worked. We just got to continue it.”

Wesley Matthews, a 6-foot-2 senior swingman also out of Forest Hills who led the Crusaders with 19, was also thrilled to finally get the monkey off the team’s back.

“It feels real good,” Matthews said. “It makes you want to cry. I’ll probably eat out at dinner tonight [to celebrate].”

The game was anything but graceful, however, as both teams struggled mightily to get into a flow in the early going. The host Terriers took an early 3-0 lead when Andrew Cashin buried a three from the right wing, but the scrappy Crusaders answered with eight unanswered points — six from senior center Richard Stankowski — to take control.

McClancy held the lead for most of the first quarter behind the play of Stankowski, Damjanovic and Matthews, while Prep seemed out of sorts. Sophomore Bryan Geffen — who led the Terriers with 15 points — appeared to be the team’s only effective offensive option.

After trailing 18-16 to start the second, St. Francis scored six straight on baskets by Geffen, Cashin and Ryan Losee to briefly retake the lead before McClancy answered with eight consecutive points. A three-pointer by Matthews with 10 seconds to play in the half made the score 33-25 before two free throws by Randy Belfiore closed the gap to six at the break.

“We didn’t crack,” said McClancy head coach Don Kent. “They key was playing ahead. We felt if they had a vulnerable spot it was inside. We followed the game plan.”

McClancy scored the first six points of the second half to extend its lead to 12 before Prep finally started to make a run. Rich Henderson, Geffen and Brian Fink all scored on a 14-6 run that spanned six minutes and stretched into the fourth quarter, making the score 49-46. But the Terriers would get no closer.

A three-point play by Matthews at 5:56 of the fourth capped a mini 8-0 run that pushed McClancy’s lead back to 12. The Crusaders hit just enough of their free throws down the stretch while keeping Prep off the scoreboard to win going away.

It was a win that was a long time coming for Kent and his Crusaders.

“Wins aren’t easy to come by, especially in this league,” the coach said. “To come into their gym and beat them on their own court is a big win for us.”

McClancy improved to 7-6 overall with the win, 1-3 in league play. St. Francis fell to 6-7 overall and 0-3 in the league.

Xaverian 64, Christ the King 54. The Royals fell to 2-4 in league play with this 10-point loss Sunday to the Clippers. Chris Taft and Shaun Wynn scored 20 points apiece for the winners.

Cardinal Spellman 51, St. John’s Prep 48. The Red Storm dropped this close match-up, as Elron Yancy and Jared Hirsch led Spellman with 16 and 10 points, respectively.

St. Raymond’s 71, Holy Cross 51. Miguel Gonzalez scored 26 points and Danny Surrett added 10 for the Knights, who dropped to 9-5 overall and 0-3 in league play with their loss Saturday.

Archbishop Molloy 84, St. Francis Prep 51. Marlon Smith led the Stanners with 29 points, five steals and four assists, while teammate Kevin Hamilton added 16 points, eight assists and six steals. Jamaal Wagner contributed 12 points and eight boards for Molloy, which improved to 11-1 overall, 2-1 in league play. Geffen led the Terriers with 14.

Bishop Loughlin 65, Christ the King 62. Japhet McNeil’s 23 points, five assists and five rebounds could not lead the Royals past the Lions, as Curtis Sumpter poured in 15, including the go-ahead basket in the final seconds.

Christ the King 65, St. Raymond’s 63. Mitchell Beauford led the Royals with 21 points, while Eric Martin added 17 and nine rebounds. Justin Marshall had seven points, including key baskets at the end of regulation and in overtime.

Xaverian 70, Holy Cross 58. Gonzalez had 20, Nick Rollins added 15 and Surrett scored 14 for Cross in a very competitive game against the highly-touted Clippers.

St. John’s Prep 50, LaSalle 45. Antonio Taylor powered the Red Storm with 13 points as the team moved to 4-0 in league play.

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

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