Knights advance in playoffs

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Heading into halftime down 11 points, Holy Cross head Coach Paul Gilvary knew he didn’t have to deliver an emotional speech to get his senior-heavy team going.

“I probably didn’t even have to go in there at halftime,” Gilvary said. “It’s just not necessary with these guys. They knew what they were doing wrong and they had to fix it.”

His Knights did exactly that, erasing the deficit en route to defeating Archbishop Molloy 72-61 in the CHSAA Class AA boys’ basketball quarterfinals Sunday at Fordham University in the Bronx.

The Knights did so behind the sensational play of two of their senior leaders, Marquise Moore and Mairega Clarke. During the shoot around after halftime, Moore and Clarke had a discussion with their fellow seniors.

“This couldn’t be our last game of the season,” Moore said. “So we just talked about it amongst ourselves, and made the effort to come out in the second half strong.”

The Knights responded to their senior leadership, opening up the third quarter with an 8-0 run, behind the hot shooting of Moore and Clark. They had shaken off their lethargic start, and now were right in the thick of the game. After tying the game at 40, Moore would give the Knights their first lead of the game, hitting a foul shot to make it 41-40 with 1:08 left to go in the third.

From there on, the Knights kept their foot on the pedal, separating from Archbishop Molloy (16-12), which was led by junior Marko Kozul (18 points) and C.J. Davis (14 points).

“It was very disappointing in the first half,” Gilvary said. “I didn’t think we played with nearly enough energy. The pace was too slow for us.”

After the half, Gilvary said he made two minor adjustments to his team but other than that it was just them playing with more energy.

“I really don’t know why they came out so lethargic today,” Gilvary said. “It was so uncharacteristic of them. We usually come out and play 32 minutes of tough basketball. Today we only did it for 16 minutes.”

That’s all it took for the Knights, though, outscoring Molloy 24-12 in the third quarter to give them the lead 43-42 heading into the fourth. Moore, who only had six points at the half, would come out and score 10 points alone in the fourth. He finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

In the fourth it was more of the same for Cross with Moore pacing the offense, scoring eight points within the first two minutes of the quarter. On back-to-back possessions, he hit three-pointers building the Knights’ lead to 54-44 with 6:03 left to play.

Clarke, who scored 17 points, made his presence felt on the defensive end, pulling down seven rebounds and rejecting three shots.

“In the second half,” Gilvary said, “we played the way we had all season. We pushed the ball, got open looks and the guys hit their shots.”

“This win feels really good, but the ultimate goal is the championsh­ip,” Clarke said. “Last year we lost to Rice in the semis, it was tough, but this year we’re looking for a different outcome.”

Updated 7:19 pm, March 7, 2012
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