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Second-half surge: Molloy rallies behind Harrison to top CK

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No, the voices weren’t in his head.

They were of teammate Wendell Gibson and his coach, Jack Curran.

“Coach was telling us [at halftime] that we’re being too mechanical,” Harrison said. “Wendell told me to get loose and play my game.”

Good thing for Molloy he took his teammate’s advice.    

Harrison came out inspired to start the second half Friday night in the Stanners’ 59-57 win at Christ the King. He broke from the offensive scheme and, with his slicing penetration, exposed the seams in the Royals’ defense.

Harrison scored the first four points of the second half and had three assists and a block in the third as Molloy (13-3, 6-0 CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens) overcame a six-point deficit to take the lead.

Because of Harrison’s play, the Stanners went on a 10-2 run, took a four-point lead and extended it to seven in the fourth. Harrison, who finished with 10 points, also got Gibson involved, as his penetration opened up passing lanes and forced defenders to help.

When they did, Harrison, dished it off to Gibson, who finishes as well as anyone in the league. CK (9-8, 5-2) became more aware of Harrison and had to abort its triple-teaming of Molloy’s big man. Gibson scored eight in the third and finished with 17 points and nine rebounds.

“Me being more relaxed helped us,” Harrison said.

That was obvious, but for one reason or another, a tentative Molloy let its fourth-quarter seven-point lead slip away. The Royals went on a two-minute, 7-0 run to tie the game with five minutes to go.

The Stanners held on to two- and four-point leads before an ending that was vintage CK-Molloy.

Molloy was clinging to one of those two-point leads, 56-54, with two minutes to go when CK’s leading scorer, Mitchel Beauford, a 5-foot-10 sophomore, drained a three from beyond the top of the key.

His trey gave the Royals their first lead in more than 12 minutes, but as quickly as his shot ripped through the net, the Stanners took the lead right back.

On the ensuing inbounds pass, John Sikiric, who had struggled shooting, sank a three of his own in transition. That shot accounted for the final score, 59-57, but the end was not without its excitement.

With 11.4 to go, CK center Rob Barrett got good position on Gibson, turned and got off a good look from four feet, but the shot rimmed out.

But like a playground fantasy, Barrett was fouled and had a chance to tie with two shots from the line. He missed both.

Harrison grabbed the rebound, but while he was jostling for the ball, he was called for traveling.

After a CK timeout with nine seconds remaining, the Royals got the ball to Beauford (16 points), who drove toward the middle from the left wing. But Harrison swatted away Beauford’s attempt with his left hand.

Molloy junior Kevin Hamilton was fouled and with 5.1 ticks remaining and had a chance to make it a two-possession game, but missed the front end of the one-and-one.

But not unlike the oddities of the rest of the game, no one boxed out the shooter. Hamilton chased down the rebound to corner and was fouled again with 2.8 to go.

And again, he missed the front end. With no timeouts remaining, CK could not get off a shot, and finally the game had come to a close.

“We felt it slipping away,” said Molloy’s John Jemott, who finished with eight points, 10 boards. “But we weren’t going to give it away. If they wanted it, they were going to have to take it from us.”

The Royals’ Peedy Nelson said this game boosts CK’s confidence despite the loss.

“We can play with anyone,” he said. “This was the game we’ve been waiting for, but just didn’t make the last shot.”

Harrison said this game helps strengthen the Stanners.

“When I look back, it’s fun,” he said. “Two-point wins are making us stronger for the playoffs. We’re getting on the right page.”

Sikiric, who finished with 12 points on 4-of-10 shooting, said of the CK squad that starts three sophomores and a junior, “I didn’t know they were this good. They’re really young and I didn’t expect much. We had a couple of stupid plays at the end, but we came away with it.

“I guess we’re the team to beat…again.”

St. Francis Prep 94, St. John’s Vianney (N.J.) 64. Terriers’ big man Rashad Bell finished with 37 points, seven rebounds, seven blocks, six steals and six assists in the win for St. Francis. Kevin White added 14 points and 11 assists, as the Terriers raised their overall record to 8-10.

Bishop Loughlin 84, Monsignor McClancy 57. The Crusaders fell to the Lions Saturday, as Curtis Sumpter led with 22 points and 12 rebounds and Teddy Mumford added 13 points and six assists. McClancy fell to 0-6 in the division with the loss.

St. John’s Prep 63, St. Anthony’s (L.I.) 48. The Red Storm earned just their third win over the year thanks to 15 points from Christ Dominiak. St. John’s Prep is now 3-15.

Monsignor McClancy 65, St. John Vianney (N.J.) 62. The Crusaders held on for the win, as Kevin Bishop (25 points) and Elvis Damovich (14 points) led the way.

Bishop Loughlin 79, St. Francis Prep 70. Despite double-doubles from two players, Bell and White, St. Francis still could not upset the Lions. Bell had 31 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks, while White had 14 points and 13 assists in the loss. Curtis Sumpter led the Lions with 31 points.

Christ the King 57, Xaverian 55. The Royals avenged their season-opening loss to the Clippers last Wednesday courtesy of Peedy Nelson’s 14 points.

Archbishop Molloy 59, Bishop Loughlin 56. Gibson led the way with 20 points and 18 boards and Sikiric added 12 points for Molloy, which narrowly avoided its first league defeat last Tuesday.

Reach Sports Editor Anthony Bosco by e-mail at TimesLedgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 130.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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