Archbishop Molloy was putting together quite a fourth quarter performance in front of an overflowing capacity crowd at the Jack Curran Gymnasium on Friday night.
Seven-foot center Moses Brown took it one step further by getting the fans to jump out of their seats with a rip-roaring two-handed slam dunk that was just part of a fourth quarter rally that helped Molloy earn a 78-67 CHSAA Class AA boys basketball victory over division rivals Christ the King.
Brown was surprised on the previous play when Royals center Kofi Cockburn made a slam dunk over the leaping junior 3:10 left to play in regulation. Instead of faltering, Brown showcased his dunk on the end and more importantly converted the three-point play to put Molloy back up 65-56 and keep their late surge rolling.
“It was so unexpected. I didn’t think he was going to get up like that. Once I saw his hand on the rim, I was like all right. I’ll make it back on defense,” Brown said. “Just not get my head down and just play hard, run back on defense and get the ball back and dunk it.”
Molloy were able to rally from a two-point deficit early in the fourth quarter lead by their trio of stars. Khalid Moore and Cole Anthony each finished with 23 points along with Brown adding 17 points with 15 rebounds as the Stanners, ranked No. 9 in the News 12 Varsity Tri-State Top 20 poll, improved to 7-3 this season.
“We got off to a bit of a slow start but I knew we was going to pick it up at the end. We got a bunch of guys who love to play basketball and play so hard,” Anthony said. “I think ultimately we wanted it more. We wanted to win this game. Everybody came together and played as a unit.”
While Molloy finished well, the hosts would struggle to contain the young Royals early in the first half. Junior guard Tyson Walker was exceptional on the perimeter by converting 7 out of 9 attempts from the field and had 16 points to help Christ the King take a 32-29 lead going into halftime.
The Stanners particularly struggled from the free throw line despite getting a lot of opportunities by finishing 31 out of 50 attempts from the charity stripe. That was one of the weaker areas that caused the Stanners to lose 80-73 on the to Mount St. Michael on Tuesday.
There were things that impressed head coach Mike McCleary, particuarly with the overall game from the 6-3 Moore, who shot 50 percent from the field and finished with 10 rebounds to keep the Stanners within striking distance early in the second half.
“I talked to him in the locker room and said welcome back. I think he’s a terrific player,” McCleary said. “He’s a rock solid player but he hasn’t played well. He played confidently.”
Jose Alvarado, who finished with 16 points, helped Christ the King cut the deficit to 54-53 early in the fourth quarter. But the Royals ran out of steam containing Anthony as the sophomore guard connected on back-to-back layups and Brown had a layup to push the Stanners lead up to 7 points with 4 minutes to play.
Walker would finish with a game-high 27 points for Christ the King (7-4), ranked No. 18 in the Tri-State Top 20 poll, will get a chance to rebound on Sunday at home against Wings Academy in the finale of the Apparel Challenge. That game will be shown live on News12Varsity.com at 7:45 p.m.
Molloy will have another big test on Sunday by taking on undefeated Queens High School of Teaching, who are 14-0 and ranked No. 6 in the Tri-State Top 20, in the anticipated all-Queens matchup at 4:15 p.m. at Christ the King High School.
Anthony knows his team must match the intensity and the execution needed to post a significant victory against the potential PSAL Class AA title contender.
“If we could play like this all year, there’s no one stopping us,” Anthony said. “At all.”