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Leary captures 500th win as SFP beats Cross

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St. Francis Prep varsity boys basketball coach Tim Leary picked up his 500th career win on the varsity level Sunday against crosstown rivals Holy Cross, 49-46.

But the game was hardly picture-perfect for the longtime coach of the Terriers, who saw his star player, junior guard Bryan Geffen, pick up his third with less than a minute to play in the first quarter.

“Yeah, of course [I was worried],” Leary said. “He carries us. We’re very thin to begin with. He had four offensive fouls. I think even [Holy Cross] coach [Paul] Gilvary was a little bit upset with the amount of offensive fouls that were called. Whether they were deserved or not.

“We had Andrew Cashin playing on a very tender ankle, and without Geffen I really think the other kids stepped up, particularly a couple of seniors and it being Senior Night and they hadn’t played a real lot. I thought they stepped up,” Leary added. “It was a good overall team kind of win and it’s good to get it at the end heading into the playoffs.”

From the git-go, the game was a flurry of fouls and turnovers, resulting in a first quarter that will hardly go down in the annals of either the CHSAA or the long rivalry between the two Francis Lewis Boulevard schools.

After Geffen scored the first 6 points of the game Cross scored the next 8, including a basket by Gordon Mckenzie to put the Knights ahead 8-6 after one.

The frenetic pace and poor play slowly evaporated in the second, with both clubs picking up their respective offense.

With Geffen on the bench, Prep turned to Brian Fink and Ian Rogers. Fink had 7 points in the quarter, while Rogers added 6. Cross countered with the play of Kevin Ogletree, who had 6, including the final bucket before the half, pulling Cross to within two, 25-23, at the break.

“It wasn’t well-played particularly, but it was very hard played,” Leary said of the game. “These kids know each other. It’s a rivalry and this is what our league is about. Even if they’re not pretty, the games are good and the kids go after each other.”

Prep continued to hold the advantage for most of the second half, taking a 29-24 lead following an offensive foul on the Knights’ Ramose Modesto and subsequent technical foul on Nick Rollins leading to 4 straight Prep points — two free throws by Geffen and a short jumper by Fink.

Cross tied it moments later, but each time the Knights managed to get close St. Francis managed to answer right back, taking a 36-32 lead into the fourth.

A traditional three-point play by Ogletree at the 7:21 mark closed Cross to within two before Geffen answered with a three. But the Knights rallied back with a three by Joe Connor and another by Ogletree to give Cross a 41-40 lead with 3:24 remaining in regulation.

Ryan Losee and Rogers scored to give Prep back a three-point advantage, but Connor hit again from outside to tie the game with 2:33 on the clock.

St. Francis hit 5-of-6 from the line inside the final 90 seconds, while Cross’ Michael Johnson scored his team’s final basket with 5.4 seconds remaining.

Despite the foul trouble, Geffen led Prep with 13 points, followed by 12 from Fink and 10 from Rogers. Losee added 9, helping Prep raise its record to 15-9 overall and 5-8 in league play.

Cross, which falls to 11-13 overall and 3-10 in the league, was led by Ogletree’s 12. Johnson added 9.

It may not have been the prettiest of wins, but it was a milestone for Leary.

“It feels good,” he said. “It validates what we’ve been doing around here for 30 years. It’s as much about all the other teams we’ve coached as this team, but it’s particularly gratifying knowing that we were able to hang in in the ‘A’ division. Most of these wins have been hard-fought, but we got them, against good teams, so it makes it all worthwhile.”

Christ the King 87, Bishop Loughlin 69. Christ the King was led by senior Brian Williams’ 27 points in this league win Sunday. Japhet McNeil added 18 points and 15 assists for the Royals, now 18-5 overall and 9-3 in league play.

Monsignor McClancy 70, St. Francis Prep 61. The Crusaders were paced by Nick Hamilton-Lopez, who scored 32 points to a comeback win against the Terriers. McClancy (7-17 overall, 2-11 league) scored 31 in the fourth, overcoming a 42-38 deficit heading into the final period. Willie Borgolette added 21, while the Terriers were paced by Geffen with 19.

All Hallows 77, Monsignor McClancy 54. Hamilton-Lopes scored 16 to pace McClancy in this league loss Feb. 13.

Xaverian 64, Christ the King 54. Mitchell Beauford scored a team-high 17 for the Royals, who dropped this league match-up Friday. Chris Taft and Lavance Fields led the Clippers with 21 and 13 points, respectively.

Archbishop Molloy 81, Bishop Loughlin 66. Marlon Smith eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his career last Tuesday, scoring 20 in this league win over Loughlin. Sundiata Gaines led Molloy with 24 points.

St. Raymond’s 95, St. Francis Prep 77. Geffen scored 35 points for Prep in this loss to the league-leading Ravens of St. Raymond’s Feb. 11.

Monsignor McClancy 62, Holy Cross 52. Borgolette led the Crusaders to their first league win, scoring 27 points last Tuesday. Pierre Lavelle chipped in 16 points.

Christ the King 81, All Hallows 57. Beauford led the Royals with 21 points and McNeil added 18 in this league win last week.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 1-718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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