The schedule Molloy played last season was rigorous by design. Scott Lagas gathered as many challenging non-league teams he could play on top of one of the region’s premier conference schedules in 2013-14, all with an eye on how much it will benefit his squad this winter.
And Wednesday was the proof.
Molloy traveled to Ossining and dealt the two-time defending Class AA public state champs a 69-63 defeat in a game that aired live on MSG Varsity. Aryn McClure posted 19 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks as the Stanners — who went 14-13 a year ago — improved to 4-0.
“I think last year played a huge factor,” Lagas said. “We had 10 new girls on varsity last year and we only graduated three. That was the plan, to get them ready for big competition like this. We want to be challenged every night and it prepares you for games like this.”
McClure, a 6-foot-1 senior, and Stanners showed great resiliency down the stretch, especially after Ossining (3-2) made a run midway through the fourth quarter to regain the lead.
The Quinnipiac-bound McClure was exceptional on both ends, knocking down shots from the perimeter and defending Ossining center Jalay Knowles. McClure consistently got the Stanners out in transition and as her defense and rebounding allowed Molloy to break away in the final two minutes.
“She’s one of the best players in the state, if not the best in my opinion,” Lagas said. “I get the pleasure of spending every day with her. Aryn is the hardest worker at practice every single day. Quinnipiac got a gift.”
Bigger than any shot McClure made was the countless she altered, as well as the number of second-chances she denied Ossining.
The Stanners got 10 points in the fourth quarter from Kaityln Mahon and Kathryn Gibson and Emer Maloney hit shots throughout the second half.
Ossining, which hadn’t lost at home since Feb. 4, 2011, fell behind seven in the third quarter, a Molloy run sparked by sophomore Margarita Kilpatrick coming in off the bench.
Shadeen Samuels, who is nursing a sore knee, picked up the Pride in the second half, scoring 17 of her 20 points after the break. But, after falling behind by four with under two minutes to play, Ossining had consecutive 3-point shots go in and out of the rim.
Molloy sealed the game at the free throw line to beat the Pride for the first time after losses the last three seasons.
“It’s only December, which is what I just told the kids,” Ossining coach Dan Ricci said. “That’s the light at the end of the tunnel, but I don’t like the way we are playing. I saw glimpses tonight of what we’re capable of but I saw some things I really didn’t like. When you play a quality team like this, you’re going to come away with a loss.”
Knowles finished with 19 points for Ossining in a game played in honor of Pauline Ricci, coach Ricci’s mother, who passed away three years ago.
Email Kevin Devaney Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org