If you showed up in Briarwood even 45 minutes before tip-off, you probably couldn’t find a seat.
Nine months after being upset in the finals by the Bronx-based Hayes, Molloy was having none of it in the rematch, putting on a dominant offensive display against their league rival.
Though the game appeared much more competitive than the scoreboard lent credence to, the Stanners of Queens didn’t trail at any point in the wire-to-wire victory, which saw them protect homecourt, 91-70, in front of a packed gym.
Asked if he saw a difference between the two Hayes teams from last season and this go-round, 7-foot-1 Moses Brown, who had 22 points, 15 rebounds and eight blocks on the night, kept it simple.
“Yeah, they lost,” he said with a dead serious expression.
The Stanners were shockingly defeated by All Hallows, 69-62, just two days prior to their showdown with Hayes, and the loss to Hallows came as the Stanners returned from participating in the City of Palms Classic in Florida, where Brown felt the team underperformed.
That notion, along with the sting of losing in last year’s CHSAA championship, served as the driving force to Friday night’s performance, according to the highly touted big.
“I feel like we had a pretty bad week in Florida, and in All Hallows, we felt like that was going to be an easy game,” said the star senior center. “We had to come out there and blow them out. That definitely wasn’t the same team from last year.”
Junior point guard Cole Anthony, also a highly regarded prospect playing for Archbishop Molloy, filled up the box score with a game-high 31 points and four assists.
As the rivalry revered itself on the court, with the two teams raising intensity levels in the second quarter, Anthony says the contentious nature worked in Molloy’s favor, and the Stanners knew they were in their opponents’ heads.
Molloy began the game with a 17-6 run, ended the first quarter ahead 26-14, and carried a 48-31 lead into the halftime period.
“As the second and third quarter started, you could tell that they started to play more individually,” said Anthony. “So, at that point I said ‘oh yeah, we’ve got them. Let’s keep this pressure up.’”
The Stanners led by as many as 31 in the blowout victory, and the win improves their record to 4-3 on the season, which reads as 2-1 in league play and a perfect 3-0 at home.
Georgia Tech-bound Khalid Moore added 17 points for Molloy. In defeat, future Quinnipiac guard and Hayes senior Tyrese Williams led the Cardinals with 29 points, while junior Joe Toussaint added 14.
Molloy will return to action at the Apparel Challenge on Sunday, January 7, at Christ the King High School. Other local standout programs like Boys & Girls, Bishop Loughlin, Thomas Jefferson, South Shore, and both Christ the King varsity teams will compete.