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Molloy, Mary Louis get ready to rumble: Queens rivals open up division slate with evenly matched game

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"We might as well practice together the day before the game," Lewinger said jokingly. Both team's CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens Division I opener, though, will be no laughing matter, especially coming off disappointing outings at the South Shore Christmas Classic. Mary Louis (5-4) beat the host team, but fell to Buffalo's Rush-Henrietta and Newark (N.Y.), while Molloy (6-3) lost to LaSalle (R.I.) and St. Michael's Academy. It's hard to think that the first league game in January could be considered vitally important. But that's the case just about anytime the top four teams play in a league that has more parity than ever. "I think this game is a huge statement game for both teams," Lewinger said. "To me, there's four teams playing very good basketball - Christ the King, Bishop Ford, Mary Louis and Molloy."And with the return game played at Mary Louis on the final day of the regular season, Lewinger believes the onus is squarely on Molloy to win at Jack Curran Gymnasium Monday."If you're Molloy, I think this is a must win," he said. "If you lose, you have to go to Bishop Ford and Christ the King to play them. And one thing I like about our court is that we're very difficult to beat at home."Mary Louis is led by St. John's-bound Amanda Burakoski, the first Division I basketball player at the school in 30 years. As was the case against superstar Sammy Prahalis from Commack, who will play at Ohio State next year, and Manhattan Center's China Crosby, Lewinger expects Molloy will likely try and shut down Burakoski with a box-and-one, or an extended 3-2 zone, with Shannon LaVelle and Marielle Duryea getting the prime assignment. But what makes Mary Louis different is that they have more than one weapon."We like to spread out the wealth," Lewinger said. "If they try and shut down Amanda, I have full confidence the rest of the team can pick up the load."Molloy's strength is its balanced scoring, which includes LaVelle, Duryea, Molly Dreyer, Kelly Guerriero and Kelly Robinson. But Lewinger said the Stanners' real star is Manhattan-bound Kerri White. "I do believe that Kerri White is the hub, she's the focal point," he said. "She's probably the best leader in the conference and the one that holds the team together. I fully believe with one or two minutes left in the game, she'll have the ball in her hands."There are intriguing match-ups all over the court. There's LaVelle and Duryea versus Burakoski and Kelly Puwalksi, Dreyer versus Kelly Carman inside and, perhaps the most interesting, Molloy's Kelly Robinson against Karin Robinson (no relation) from Mary Louis. But none of that matters, according to Molloy coach John McGlynn."If you don't pass, if you play sloppy and if you don't play defense," McGlynn said, "what you know (about each other) isn't going to matter."Reach Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at news@TimesLedger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 143.

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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