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The Butler Did It

At the start of the season, the Molloy girls' basketball coach talked about making a run at league giant Christ the King. And he backed up those words by classifying his Stanners as a 'AA' team, the highest of the CHSAA's four-tier classification in a preseason meeting in October. After winning back-to-back lower level state Federation championships, Molloy would finally be the team that would challenge Christ the King in Brooklyn/Queens. But that all changed for Towey and Molloy Dec. 15 when star guard Rosalyn Gold Onwude went down with a sprained right knee. The Stanners learned the Stanford-bound star would be lost for the year following an MRI Jan. 4. A day earlier and hours before an embarrassing 24-point loss to Bishop Loughlin, Towey penned a letter to league commissioner Rick Matzelle requesting that his team be moved down to Class A. That request has been the hot topic around the league and will be a major point of emphasis at the league's coaches meeting Thursday and the athletic director's meeting Tuesday. "We opted to go 'A' before any league games so the outcome of those games isn't viewed as a reason for us to drop down," Towey said. "What we're doing now is what the rules allow us to do."The athletic directors could very well decide Molloy should remain in the Class AA. Two years ago they did the same thing when Bishop Loughlin tried to move down from what was then the Class C to Class D.Should Molloy move down, they would join St. Francis Prep as the only other Class A team in the Brooklyn/Queens Diocesan, although Bishop Loughlin should be there too. "We declare in October and things happen to everyone," St. Francis Prep coach JoAnn Wagner said. "I lost a starter (Michelle Betos) to soccer, (Mary Louis coach Joe Lewinger) lost two starters. It's unfortunate what happened to (Molloy). When he declared 'AA' I gave him a lot of respect attempting to do that."Allowing Molloy to change its classification in the middle of the season would be a joke and it would trivialize an already comical preseason setup where each team - not the league, its ADs or the commissioner - decides what their classification should be.Can you imagine if we allowed this elsewhere? Theo Davis flies back to Canada and becomes academically ineligible. Should the Cardozo boys' basketball team move to the 'B' division? Or how about Christ the King? Niko Scott missed a month of the season and now Adam Walker is out with a possible stress fracture. Should they move down to the 'A' division?St. John's University lost Jermaine Maybank in the preseason and now Rodney Epperson. There are eight scholarship players left and the Red Storm have to play in the incredibly tough Big East conference. Should Norm Roberts say, 'We lost a few players, we can't compete on this level, let's move to the Atlantic-10 this year."The bottom line is that the CHSAA girls' basketball league needs revamping. They have to follow the example of the boys' league and have a citywide league. Forget this self classification before the start of the year. Teams like Molloy, St. Francis Prep, St. Peter's, St. Michael and Bishop Loughlin - which could be the biggest joke of the league as a Class B school after destroying a 'AA' school in Molloy and easily beating an 'A' school in Notre Dame Academy - would be in the 'AA' league. The boys' league has been widely regarded as the best in the country but only one team - the city championship team - goes up to Glens Falls to compete for the state Federation title. Molloy had the league's best player last year in Sundiata Gaines but still finished behind St. Raymond's and Rice. Gaines is at the University of Georgia but Molloy remains in the 'AA.'St. Francis Prep was a middle of the pack team last year in the 'AA' but was hit hard by graduation. Tim Leary remains in the 'AA' league, facing nationally-ranked teams like Christ the King and Rice on a weekly basis. "It's something I'm definitely not opposed to," Mary Louis coach Joe Lewinger said of a citywide league. "I wouldn't mind being part of a league and play schools we don't normally play."Lewinger isn't the only one who is an advocate."That's ideal, there is no question about it," Wagner said, even though St. Francis Prep would likely be one of the 'AA' teams in this setup. "It's still the best way to go. You go out against the best and leave it out on the court."Added Christ the King coach Bob Mackey: "We should so something similar to what the boys' do."As is the case in the boys' league, where Rice plays Christ the King and St. Raymond's faces Holy Cross, this setup would set up some dream matchups. Imagine Christ the King against St. Michael's Academy twice a year? Or St. Peter's against Bishop Loughlin, or St. John Villa against Molloy. It's all a dream right now. What's left for the league is a confusing, comical reality. Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol. or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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