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Cross hangs tough, but falls to Molloy, 83-67

The Archbishop Molloy Stanners held off a determined Holy Cross club, 83-67, in the first round Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan varsity basketball tournament Sunday at St. Francis College in Brooklyn.

Molloy advanced to the semifinals of the annual tournament, which were held Tuesday. The finals are slated for Friday evening, also at St. Francis College.

From the beginning Molloy seemed to have a tough time with the Knights. The Stanners had beaten Holy Cross in the teams’ two regular season match-ups but still had trouble getting a hold of the smaller, quicker Knights.

“This is our third time playing them this year and every time we have a little problem,” said Molloy senior Joseph Mackey. “We knew it was not going to be an easy win. They always come at us strong.”

Mackey was a key cog in the Molloy win, scoring 17 points, including six straight during a key stretch in the third quarter when the Knights were making their comeback. Marlon Smith and Sundiata Gaines each led Molloy with 19 points apiece. Ivan Marnika added 15.

Molloy (16-9) opened the game with a three from Gaines, but Cross quickly countered with a three from Nick Rollins, who led all scorers with 26. Marnika answered with another three for Molloy, setting a tone for the Stanners that would last all game long.

Whenever the Knights would surge close, Molloy had an answer. With the Cross defense keying on Smith and Gaines, Mackey and Marnika were able to take open looks all game long. Molloy was red hot from the field in the first half, taking a 22-13 lead after one and a 47-30 advantage at the break, despite a 15-point second quarter by the Knights’ Kevin Ogletree, who finished with 19.

Cross (11-14) never stopped competing and came out on fire in the third, scoring 9 of the first 10 points of the quarter to pull within nine, 48-39. Mackey stemmed the flow, pushing the Stanners’ lead back to double digits. Molloy led 63-51 entering the fourth.

Rollins and Gordon McKenzie pulled the Knights within six, 65-59, when Cross opened the fourth on an 8-2 run. But reserve big man Vincent Falzone hit two free throws and Smith got a friendly bounce to score from three to push the lead back to 11 and finally put the Knights away.

“The energy that we played with in the second half we need in the first half,” said Holy Cross coach Paul Gilvary. “We can be very difficult for teams to play against ... but it only comes when we really play with a tremendous amount of energy and intensity.”

Molloy was scheduled to play Christ the King in the semifinals Tuesday.

Christ the King 83, Monsignor McClancy 47. The Royals rolled of the Crusaders in the first match-up of Sunday’s tripleheader at St. Francis College. Japhet McNeil and Mitchell Beauford each scored 13 points and Brian Williams added 11 for Christ the King, which improved to 19-6 on the year. McClancy was led by William Borgolte with 12 points and 11 each from Nick Hamilton-Lopez and Lavelle Pierre.

Bishop Loughlin 63, St. Francis Prep 42. The Lions, which came into the tournament as the No. 5 seed, upset the No. 4 Terriers in the three-game finale. Andrew Wright led Loughlin (12-13) with 18, followed by Kojo Mansah with 16, Courtney Johnson with 13 and Desean Gist with 10. Prep (15-10) was led by Andrew Cashin with 13 and Ryan Losee’s 11. Bryan Geffen, the Terriers’ leading scorer, was held to just 8.

Cathedral Prep 68, Regis 66. Ray Tinneny hit two free throws with eight seconds remaining to give Cathedral Prep the win and sole possession of first place heading into the playoffs. Tinneny finished with 19 points, but the Crusaders (12-1 in the league and 16-6 overall) were led by Bradd Wierzbicki’s 27 points. The win gives Cathedral a bye in the first round of the CHSAA ‘C’ playoffs. The team will play St. Joseph by the Sea in the semifinals Sunday at Sacred Heart High School in Yonkers.

St. John’s Prep heads to the playoffs. The St. John’s Prep Red Storm finished tied for first place with St. Edmund Prep, with both teams holding identical 12-4 records. The Red Storm opened the CHSAA ‘B’ playoffs as the No. 3 seed Tuesday and — if form holds — will play again Saturday in the quarterfinals. The semifinals will be Tuesday and the finals will be Friday, March 7, at Iona College. St. John’s Prep had a 16-7 overall record.

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

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