Molloy rebounds to beat Holy Cross

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Chaz Watler didn’t miss his chance at redemption, draining a buzzer-beating shot to give Archbishop Molloy a thrilling win after nearly costing his team victory.

Just prior to the bucket, he fouled Akil Spruil and gave Holy Cross a chance to win the game with 5.6 seconds left. Spruil missed his final free throw that would have given Cross a one-point lead.

With the clock ticking, Marko Kozul grabbed the rebound. Saying he just saw a blue jersey, he dished the ball to Watler, who connected from the right side off the glass, giving the visiting Stanners an 81-79 win in CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens AA boys’ basketball Friday night.

“It was big-time redemption for me because I had to make up for the last game,” said Watler, who cost Molloy a game against St. Raymond two weeks ago by fouling in the closing seconds of a tie game late. “It was a lot of pressure because you want to make up for the last one and even my teammates were saying this is St. Rays all over again.”

It looked like it was going to be an easy game for Molloy, which held a 16-point lead at halftime. Instead, it needed to overcome a 66-60 fourth quarter deficit to force overtime.

“It was agonizing,” said legendary Stanners Coach Jack Curran. “That was definitely better for the spectators than the coaches. Games like this are not good for me. I’m too old for this.”

Watler finished with 29 points, Kozul had 21 and Christopher Davis added 20 for Molloy (7-3, 1-2). Terrell Williams led Holy Cross (4-4, 1-2) with 23 points, Jermaine Bishop had 16 and Ryan Wilson chipped in 15.

Consecutive threes gave the Stanners a seven-point lead after the first quarter. Molloy eventually increased that lead to 16 at the half, but things turned around quickly. Holy Cross went on a 20-3 run that gave them a 46-45 lead just before the third quarter The Knights went up six in the fourth, but turnovers forced things to unravel in the final 1:18.

“You couldn’t tell by that, but we actually do practice the press-style offense,” Holy Cross Coach Tom Marchesini said. “We were a little inexperienced and a little nervous. We threw passes that we don’t usually throw. I mean, we were throwing lob passes across the court.”

The win was a big one for Molloy, which held late leads against both St. Raymond and Hayes only to watch them slip away in the final minutes. To be able to come back and actually hold on to a close lead meant a lot to them.

“It made us realize that the game is not over until the buzzer,” Kozul said. “Everybody is beatable, but you never know what’s going to happen. A win like this will make us feel more confident.”

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