BRONX, NY - In the open game of the CHSAA quarterfinals, the Molloy Stanners ran into the Holy Cross Knights.
The Stanners made their mark early but the seasoned Knights were resilient and mounted a second half comeback. Led my Marquise Moore's 23 points, Holy Cross ended Molloy's season, 72-61.
Holy Cross's Ed Rocigno (8 points) and Molloy's Marko Kozul (18 points) exchange threes to open the game but with 6:17, Rocigno gave the Knights a slight 5-3 advantage. Molloy kept pace with the Knights but still remained behind. A pass from Anthony Libroia to Mairega Clarke (17 points) for a dunk along with a steal by Moore kept Cross up by one to start the second quarter.
A three-pointer from PG Christian Giles (5 points) would give Molloy first lead 15-13 but Libroia (10 points) responded as the lead swayed back and forth. Molloy became aggressive on both the offensive and defensive boards as jumpers by Kozul and Gabriael Kilpatrick (7 points) led to an 11-3 run capped off by C.J. Davis (14 points) who scored with 3:38 left in the half.
Kilpatrick goes strong to hole and stands on top of Libroia afterwards yielding double techs as the Stanners became more assertive, the Knights grew more frustrated and tempers flared. Cross also tried to assert themselves as the halkf came to an end but when they coughed up the ball, Molloy took a commanding 30-19 lead into the locker room.
Libroia, who only had three-points in the first half, kicked off the third with an air ball as it appeared that the Knights were still in a funk but Clarke sparked an energy surge by the Knights. The senior scored from the foul line and from the arc and with 7:19, the Stanners called timeout as their half time lead suddenly diminished to 6.
With 6:42 Libroia finally drained a 3-ball to cut the Stanners lead to three but C.J. Davis and George Davis (13 points) would put an end to the Knights' 8-0 run.
Holy Cross kept the momentum swinging in their favor as Moore scored coupled with a 3-ball by Will Davis (12 points) from Moore with 4:42 decreased Molloy's lead to 34-33.
Molloy countered in transition but Moore began to heat up. With 2:26, Cross had an opportunity to tie the game but Davis missed the free-throw and C.J. Davis extended Molloy's lead back to three. On the next possession, Will Davis would not miss the opportunity and knotted the game at 40.
Moore would draw a foul with 1:08 left in the third and although he went 1 for 2 at the line gave the Knights a one-point lead. C.J. Davis would regain the lead for the Stanners but with a jumper by Moore at the buzzer put the Knights in front, 43-42 to begin the fourth.
Holy Cross lacked aggression in the first half but an offensive rebound and a trey by Moore extended the Knight lead to 5 points early. Another three from the right corner put the Stanners down 54-44 with 6:04 left to play and forced Molloy's legendary head coach Jack Curran to call a timeout.
Kozul drained a three coming out of the timeout but the Knights immediately countered. Down 13 points with 4:07 left to play, the Stanners came apart at the seams.
Molloy would get their deficit down to 10 with 2 minutes left to play but Morrell Gaskins, their inside presence, would foul out and an unmolested dunk in transition by Clarke followed by a frustration 5th foul by Kozul was Molloy's proverbial white flag.
Holy Cross will face Mt. Saint Michael in the CHSAA semifinals on Thursday at St. John's