Molloy handles Loughlin to reach third stright diocesan final

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Will the third time be the time for Archbishop Molloy in the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens title game?

The third-seeded Stanners girls’ basketball team will get a chance to find out after an impressive 52-38 win over No. 2 Bishop Loughlin in the Division I diocesan semifinals last night at St. Francis Prep. Molloy reaches the final for the third straight season and gets a rematch with defending champion Christ the King 6 p.m. Sunday at Molloy. One of the teams goals also season is to finally grab the crown after knowing what it’s like to miss out.

“Third time is a charm,” Quinnipiac-bound forward Aryn McClure said. “It’s a good opportunity.”

On a team loaded with seniors the Stanners can thank junior Emily Peckham for giving them full control of the game. The 6-foot-1 forward scored all 11 her 13 points in the second quarter to help give Molloy a 30-16 lead at the break. Peckham scored seven straight points, including a 3-point play off a feed from Emer Moloney to make it 27-16 with less than a minute to play.

“It was kind of just being in the right place at the right time,” Peckham said. “I got a lot of assists from Aryn. My teammates really helped me out there.”

Peckham getting involved usually means Molloy is executing well on offense if you ask coach Scott Lagas. The Stanners did that from the start and jumped out to an 11-0 lead mid-way through the first quarter. Nicole Teta scored all seven of her points in the opening frame.

It was the extension of the extra attention to detail Lagas saw at practice with the playoff on the horizon. Molloy, which garnered a national ranking early in the year, went through a rash of injuries in December. The Stanners (20-6) are healthy now, minus Kathryn Gibson (ACL), and want to claim one of its season goals.

“I think that they feel like after all we’ve been through now we have to go all the way,” Lagas said.

The veteran Stanners held off multiple surges by Loughlin (19-6) down the stretch behind McClure (13 points) and Kaitlyn Mahon (nine points). The Lions got at close as 42-34 on a layup by Zaria Dorsey with 3:01 to play in the game. McClure made two technical free throws after that and Moloney finished a short jumper in transition to keep the Lions at bay. Kiana Clark paced Loughlin with 13 points.

Molloy was eager to show it was better than the Lions after the two split their two regular season meeting. The feeling is similar with the Royals, who beat them twice this year and in last year’s title game.

“We really wanted to get another opportunity at winning a championsh­ip,” Peckham said. “Hopefully we will be able to verse Christ the King again and hopefully pull out win.”

Updated 12:55 pm, February 28, 2015
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