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St. Francis Prep holds off late rally by Molloy

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The St. Francis Prep girls’ basketball team defeated Archbishop Molloy, 74-71, Sunday in one of the most anticipated matchups of the CHSAA season. The win was anything but a cakewalk for coach Tom Finn’s team against Marty Towey’s Stanners, in only their second season on the varsity level.

Prep led by four, 37-33, at the half and used a 20-8 run in the third quarter to pull away from Archbishop Molloy, only to see a 16-point lead evaporate late as the Stanners took control on two free throws by Jessica McEntee with 1:05 remaining in the game.

Trailing 69-68, the Terriers responded quickly, as Megan Sullivan broke the Molloy press and went the length of the court to score the go-ahead basket. A turnover by Molloy and two free throws by Christina Grodon pushed the Prep lead to three, 72-69.

McEntee answered for Molloy, but Eileen Strohm nailed two clutch free throws with only five seconds remaining on the clock. Finn called a timeout and set up his defense to prevent a desperation three by Molloy, but to no avail. the Stanners managed to get one last shot off before the buzzer, only to see it miss the mark.

“If you paid to get in you got your money’s worth,” Finn said. “We were both 5-1 in the league coming in. They had a very good record and had been playing well. It was a very good game.

“It was everything it was advertised to be.”

There was no feeling-out process at all in this game, as both clubs went on the offensive right away, with the Terriers holding a two-point advantage after the first quarter, 22-20.

Though the offensive production slowed, the Terriers again outscored Molloy by two in the second period, 15-13, to take a 37-33 lead into halftime.

“We ran up and down and put the ball in the basket,” Finn said of his team.

Prep got some separation in the third quarter, going on a 20-8 run led by Sullivan, who finished the game with a team-high 26 points and 8 assists. Her backcourt mate Gordon, who started the season as the point guard but has slid over to the two-spot with Sullivan’s emergence, added 17 points. Susan Divald and Caitlin Kennedy added 15 and 10 points, respectively.

Molloy, however, was not done yet. The Stanners turned up the defensive intensity in the third quarter, employing a full-court press, while St. Francis, in foul trouble, went to a zone defense that enabled the Briarwood school to rally back into the game.

“After we went zone things got a bit hectic,” Finn said. “They did a good job against the zone. McEntee did a good job. She hurt us inside.”

McEntee finished with 22 points, including 14-of-17 from the line. E.J. Dreyer added 16 and Roslyn Gold-Onwude had 14.

“We dug a hole for ourselves we shouldn’t have dug,” Towey said. “We came back when we pressed them. We were doing the things we needed to do, but we couldn’t hold on.”

But just as Molloy had taken the lead, Prep took it right back on a great solo effort by Sullivan and some clutch foul shooting down the stretch.

St. Francis Prep 75, Spellman 51. Kennedy scored 18 points and had 12 rebounds, while Divald added 15 points and 12 boards for Prep, now 9-6 overall and 6-1 in league play.

Archbishop Molloy 58, Sacred Heart 31. McEntee led the Stanners with 16 points, while Keri-Anne Jetter and Gold-Onwude added 11 apiece for the Stanners, now 14-4 overall and 6-2 in league play.

Christ the King 59, Paterson Eastside (N.J.) 46. Shay Doron and Corinne Turner scored 13 points apiece for Christ the King in non-league action Monday, as the team bounced back from its first defeat of the year to improve to 13-1.

Marlboro 59, Christ the King 53. The Royals, ranked No. 1 in the nation by USAToday, lost for the first time this season Sunday in a non-league contest at the Battle on the Boardwalk. Doron led the Royals with 16.

Manhattan Center 46, Mary Louis 43. Liz Strein scored 12 points and Rachele Burriesci and Erin Breen netted 10 points apiece for Mary Louis (3-10) in the second round of the Monsignor King tournament. Nakia Baker scored a game-high 21 points for Manhattan Center.

Fontbonne Hall 59. St. John’s Prep 48. Pam Walsh netted 13 points and Gina Pisano chipped in 12 to lead Fontbonne Hall past St. John’s Prep.

Christ the King 75, Bishop Ford 35. Senior guard Shay Doron led the Royals with 12 points — all in the first quarter — to help keep the Royals unbeaten. Sophomore Careem Gay added 11 for CK, which improved to 7-0 in league play with the win.

St. John’s Prep 48, Martin Luther 29. The Red Storm’s Shaniqua Edmonds led the way with 19 points to carry her team to a non-league win against fellow Queens team Martin Luther, which dropped to 8-5.

Midwood 44, Mary Louis 35. Melanie Murphy scored a game-high 15 points and Maureen Marzano added 11 points and 9 boards for Midwood while Strein (10 points), Breen (9 points) and Barresci (8 points) again led the Hilltoppers in the Monsignor King tournament.

Archbishop Molloy 64, Bishop Kearney 52. The Stanners were led by Jessica McEntee’s double-double, scoring 19 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in this league win. Caitlin Boyle scored 14 for Kearney.

St. Francis Prep 53, Bishop Ford 27. Caitlin Kennedy scored 12 points and snatched 10 rebounds, while Susan Divald paced the Terriers with 16 points.

Stella Maris 58, St. Agnes 26. Juanita Whym scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to raise Stella Maris over St. Agnes in CHSAA II league play. Maris improved to 9-2 overall and 7-1 in league action.

St. Francis Prep 72, Kellenberg Memorial 41. Kennedy had 27 points and 10 boards and Meghan Sullivan shipped in 15 points and 9 assists for the Terriers in this non-league win.

Bishop Loughlin 84, Mary Louis 59. The Hilltoppers got 15 points from Liz Strein, but it was not enough as Janele Henderson and Akeeta Barrett scored 18 apiece for Loughlin.

St. John’s Prep 51, St. Savior 46. Edmonds scored 15 and Starla White chipped in 14 to lead the Red Storm to victory. Edmonds also added 5 assists.

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

Updated 10:26 am, October 12, 2011
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