In the biggest game of the year, in front of a standing-room only crowd at Jack Curran Gymnasium, Janine Maser was ready.
The senior on the Molloy girls' basketball team was obsessed with Thursday's rematch with Mary Louis, spending the better part of the week hanging up promotional flyers and thinking about her difficult assignment.
Her jobs? From Monday to Wednesday it was to get a buzz about the game throughout school and on Thursday it was to shut down Mary Louis star guard Casey Shevlin.
The Queens College-bound guard executed both jobs to perfection as Shevlin was limited to a season-low six points in Molloy's 52-33 rout.
"I made that my goal in practice, to work on my defense," Maser said. "I just wanted to shut her down, as best as I could."
Molloy (14-6, 7-4) avenged a 47-39 loss Jan. 6 and all but locked up third place in the Brooklyn/Queens Division I standings, which is crucial because of two things: The Stanners should face Bishop Kearney, not the nation's best team in Christ the King, in the semifinals and Molloy will get the chance to represent the division in the CHSAA Class A state tournament.
Meanwhile, Mary Louis (11-9, 5-5) picked a bad time to play its worst basketball, falling to both Bishop Kearney and Molloy and instead of battling for second place in Brooklyn/Queens Division I, the Hilltoppers are in fourth place.
It wasn't her sole responsibility - she shared it with defensive stalwart Irene Rynasewycz - but Maser helped shut down Shevlin, who scored 22 in the first meeting between the teams. Shevlin had just three points in each half and her usual deadly perimeter shooting was completely eliminated.
"That was the key. Our focus today was to see if we could shut down Casey Shevlin," Molloy coach Marty Towey said. "If we can contain her, she's a very good player, we have a good shot to win the game."
As demoralizing as the loss was for Mary Louis, the Hilltoppers should still have a chance to be the Class B representative in the state tournament.
But if Mary Louis plays as tentatively next month as it did Thursday, it will be a short postseason.
"We were shell shocked, it's as simple as that," Mary Louis coach Joe Lewinger said.
Remarkably, Mary Louis scored the first four points of the game by going inside but after Julia Serewko left the game two minutes into the second half with a right knee injury, Maral Javadifar hesitated to take the ball to the basket and Molloy dominated the glass and got to all the loose balls.
"We were hesitant and we weren't aggressive enough," Shevlin said. "We were always second guessing ourselves on our shots, drives and passes. It just wasn't there."
As was the case in the first meeting, Kerri White scored 12 points for Molloy. But this time the Flushing native delivered the dagger with a three-pointer that ended Mary Louis' mini rally at 4-0 and extended the Stanners' lead to 38-23 with 5:54 left in the fourth quarter.
"The whole team didn't think we should have lost that game," White said about the Jan. 6 game at Molloy. "And this game was for third place so it was really important to win."
In addition to White's game-high, Angela Waterman (10 rebounds, three blocks), Maser and Christine Harnischfeger scored nine points apiece for Molloy.
Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.
©2006 Community News Group
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