A career-best outing was the furthest thing from Russ Smith’s mind after banging his shooting arm against the wall prior to the game. That’s because he had hit a nerve and lost feeling in it.
“It paralyzed my whole forearm,” the Archbishop Molloy senior guard said. “I had to run water on it to try to get it through. My wrist was still numb throughout the game.”
Smith wore a shooting sleeve on his right arm to improve circulation, but still wasn’t sure about it.
“I was nervous, but as the game started going I started breaking loose,” he said.
In a big way, too.
Smith poured in a career-high 47 points, including 22 in the second quarter for the Stanners in an easy 86-50 victory over St. Francis Prep in CHSAA Class AA boys’ basketball in Fresh Meadows Friday. Smith could have scored even more had he not shot seven-of-14 from the free-throw line, the only spot on the court he seemed to miss from. LeBrandon Smith scored 16 points and Ernest Rouse added 12 for Molloy.
“I know in the Catholic league, individually, no one can guard me,” Smith said. “It is going to be a team defense and all I have to do is adjust.”
Smith scored 44 points, his previous career-high, against Bishop Loughlin earlier this season. His 47th point came on a three-pointer from the right corner that hit nothing but net with 5:07 left in the fourth.
He was asked whether he would be banging his arm against walls more often now.
“I don’t want to test my luck,” Smith said.
When legendary Stanners Coach Jack Curran was informed of Smith’s total he said, “Oh my God.”
“Tonight, that was as good as we can play,” he added. “When he has a game like that, we are tough.”
Smith was in the middle of a 15-2 Molloy (13-7, 5-5 CHSAA ‘AA’) run in the second quarter, sparked by an aggressive full-court pressure. The Terriers turned the ball over five straight times as Smith and the Stanners began heating up. He finished off a four-point play after connecting on a three-pointer and being fouled hard to give Molloy a 34-16 lead with 3:58 left in the first half. The Stanners built a 46-24 advantage at the half and never looked back.
“I was a little surprised that they got up and down as well as they did,” Terriers Coach Tim Leary said. “I thought we would compete better.”
Roger Harris and Chris Fessler each had 13 points for the Terriers (8-15, 0-12), who shot 15-of-30 from the free throw line. Brian Caffrey added 10 points.
Leary said it was just the second time this season his team was blown out, the second a 71-32 loss to Christian Brothers Academy (N.J.) in December. While St. Francis Prep finished winless in the league, they have challenged teams, playing right with Christ the King and Molloy earlier in the season.
“Prep plays so hard,” Smith said. “They are so underrated because of their record. Their zone can really take you out of the game. It could be a 30-point game for both teams. That’s how great the zone is.”
Smith and the Stanners were just better.
“I’ve seen Molloy seven or eight times,” Leary said. “That was one of the better games I’ve seen them play this year. They didn’t miss shots.”
©2009 Community News Group
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