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HISTORY!: Molloy snaps Christ the King’s 23-year title streak to win first Brooklyn/Queens championship

"They're just the best. You know the dynasty," she said. "They have amazing players that go there. You know when you're playing against them, their players are all good. Even their bench is usually good. If you come in intimidated, you'll lose by a lot."That's a big reason why the Royals won 12 state Federation titles, 17 consecutive CHSAA Class AA championships and have been the dominant team in Brooklyn/Queens for more than two decades.But that's over now. The Stanners ended Christ the King's 23-year reign as Brooklyn/Queens Division I champions, beating the Royals, 45-41, at St. John's Prep Sunday night."It definitely relieved the feeling like they're invincible," Molloy senior Kerri White said.Molloy is the B/Q Class AA representative in the CHSAA state playoffs and will play either St. Michael Academy or St. John the Baptist Saturday at Hofstra University in the title game.Christ the King will be the Class A representative and is scheduled to play St. John Villa at the College of Staten Island Wednesday night. The winner takes on Long Island champion Holy Trinity at Hofstra Saturday at 3 p.m."Twenty-four years is a long time to hold onto something," Christ the King coach Bob Mackey said. "We had some close ones."Sunday's final was close, too. But Molloy had already beaten Christ the King during the regular season, handing the Royals their first league defeat in eight years. That victory served both as motivation and a confidence booster to a Molloy team that had no aspirations of beating Christ the King when the season began."We didn't want it to feel like the first game was a fluke," said White, who scored a team-high 12 points. "We knew we could play with them and we wanted to prove it wasn't a one-time thing."While Stanners players didn't believe beating the Royals was possible at the beginning of the season, Dom Cecela had confidence. When he took over as coach for John McGlynn, who resigned Jan. 16, Cecala told the players he thought they could win the division. They were in fifth place at the time."This is a big mountain we wanted to climb," said Cecala, who also coached the Molloy junior varsity team to the Brooklyn/Queens title Sunday. "If there was any way possible to win this league, we had to go through Christ the King."With the score tied at 23 at halftime, Christ the King appeared poised to take the game over in the third quarter. Led by freshman Bria Smith, who scored a game-high 21 points, the Royals led 33-25 with two minutes left in a sloppy third quarter.But in the fourth quarter, Molloy stepped up the intensity and Christ the King didn't have an answer. After a big defensive rebound by Kyra Aloizos, Royals' guard Jael Pena was hit with a technical foul with 2:10 left in the game. With her team trailing by two, LaVelle buried a key three-pointer with 1:42 left to put Molloy up for good."Our guards really hurt us," Mackey said. "Jael wasn't herself. She should have been the leader and she wasn't."In a wild final minute, LaVelle hit a pair of clutch free throws to put Molloy in front, 43-40, and after picking up a loose ball, Kelly Robinson buried two more free throws with five seconds left to seal the Stanners' win and put a new name on the championship trophy."Now there's a new name on it," Cecala said. "What a ride, and it's not over."Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at news@TimesLedger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

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