Molloy wins in best performance of season to date

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If there was progress made in a loss Saturday night, the Archbishop Molloy girls’ basketball team might officially be back to normal as of Sunday.

The Stanners turned in their best performance of the season, a 75-60 win against New Mission (Mass.) at the Big Apple Recruiting Christmas Classic at Bishop Ford High School in Brooklyn. They counteracted New Mission’s speedy, athletic attack with smart, team basketball, never letting their opponents dictate the pace of the game.

“That’s Molloy,” Coach Tom Catalanotto said. “That’s us. We’ve been waiting for this.”

Molloy’s campaign in defending its first CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens title started off slowly. Catalanotto, a new coach, brought in a new system, one that focused on getting the ball inside first to open things up for the team’s outstanding three-point shooters. To make matters worse, leading scorer Kelly Guerriero, the best of those shooters, got sick last week and hasn’t played 100 percent since.

On Sunday, Guerriero played the most minutes since coming down with the flu. Molloy (4-4) looked rejuvenated.

“They’re buying into my system,” Catalanotto said. “They were fighting me at first.”

The key to the game was the play of the Stanners’ post players. C.W. Post-bound senior Nicole Marciniak had 17 points and 12 rebounds and junior Kyra Aloizos had 11 points. New Mission’s defense didn’t have an answer for them down low and packing it in didn’t work, either.

Guerriero was able to knock down three three-pointers for nine points and Elise Lontos, always under the radar, had an enormous 16 points off the bench. When told Lontos’ point total after the game, Catalanotto was shocked.

“Wow,” he said. “I didn’t even know that. That’s amazing.”

The senior reserve always seems to find herself in the right place, whether it be to make the extra pass or convert an easy lay-up.

“She has so much energy,” Aloizos said. “She plays so hard. Everybody underestimates her.”

Catalanotto almost went with a smaller lineup against New Mission (2-1). The Titans are an up-tempo, running team and the coach wanted to be able to match up with their firepower. Khadijah Ellison, who led the way with 21 points, is super athletic and Mieshia Reynolds (16 points) is excellent on the break, as well.

But Catalanotto decided to use his team’s height and strength inside as an advantage.

“We’re gonna dictate to them the way we’re gonna play the game,” he said.

It worked. Now, Molloy will play Truman on Tuesday at the Bergtraum Holiday Classic before hosting red-hot Francis Lewis in a game with plenty of storylines Saturday. The hope is that its two performances this weekend carry over into the rest of the season.

“That’s the way,” Aloizos said, “we should have been playing.”

Posted 6:33 pm, October 10, 2011
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