Archbishop Molloy closed on a 16-6 run, pulling away from Iona Prep down the stretch to earn a quality 73-61 win in a heavyweight CHSAA matinee in Queens on Tuesday.
Iona Prep entered the game with a CHSAA record of 9-1, tops in the NY Archdiocese Division, with its only league loss coming in a double overtime thriller to rival Archbishop Stepinac at the storied Westchester County Center.
Molloy came in with a CHSAA record of 6-2, just a half game behind Christ the King in the B/Q Diocesan Division. The Stanners had an 89-69 win over Bishop Loughlin on Sunday, a game that marked the return of Cole Anthony, who was sidelined with an injury for a six game stretch.
Molloy opened the game on an 8-2 run, getting four early points from Georgia Tech commit Khalid Moore and baskets from Anthony and McDonald's All American and UCLA commit Moses Brown. Iona Prep regrouped after a timeout, answering with an 8-2 run of their own, with Josh Alexander knotting the score at 10 on a 3-pointer.
Molloy regained the lead at 12-11 on a dunk by Brown, but the Gaels took it right back at 14-12 on a 3-pointer by Romar Reid. The Stanners went on to outscore Iona Prep 6-2 during the balance of the frame, taking an 18-16 lead after the first eight minutes.
After falling behind 24-19, the Gaels went on a 7-0 run consisting of a left-handed up-and-under by Stanford commit Bryce Wills, a eurostep drive by Reid and a corner 3-pointer by Spencer Curto, giving Iona Prep the lead back at 26-24.
After a bucket by Moore tied it at 26, the Stanners had another offensive spurt, taking a 31-26 lead after a field goal by Daniel Braster and a 3-pointer by Orrin Barfield. The Molloy lead swelled to 40-30 before a 3-pointer by Wills just ahead of the halftime horn made it 40-33 at the break.
Iona Prep's offense heated up early in the third, as back-to-back 3-pointers by Alexander and Reid pulled the Gaels within a point at 40-39, and a gorgeous left-handed double clutch by Wills tied the score at 44.
Molloy pulled ahead 48-44 after Anthony soared through the lane unguarded to drop in a baseline inbound lob, an apparent defensive miscue by the Gaels coming out of a timeout.
The Stanners stretched the margin to 50-45 on what turned out to be the play of the game, a fast break that started with a block by Brown and ended with an alley-oop dunk by Moore assisted by Anthony.
Play of the game: Moses Brown block; Cole Anthony behind-the-back dribble & lob pass; Khalid Moore alley-oop dunk. This gave Molloy a 50-45 lead late in the 3rd on their way to a big win over Iona Prep. @Molloyhs #HSBB #nycbasketball pic.twitter.com/cSq36LqiyE— HS Box Scores NYC (@hsboxscoresnyc) January 24, 2018
The officials stopped play when Wills, who appeared to be injured on Brown's block, took himself out of the game, wincing while clutching the side of his torso.
With Wills on the bench for the rest of the third and the crowd still buzzing over the play, Iona Prep somehow managed to negate the momentum, with Souleymane Koureissi bringing the Gaels within a point at 51-50 after he a converted a loose ball underneath.
Iona Prep jumped back in front 55-53 on another 3-pointer by Alexander, but Molloy responded by putting it into another gear offensively.
After tying the score at 55 on emphatic dunk by Brown, Moore scored the next four on a pair of freebies and a dunk, and a layup by Jade Tse gave the Stanners a six point cushion at 63-57 with 4:23 left.
Although it looked like things would get interesting when Brown picked up his 4th personal and Alexander converted a free throw to make it 63-58, Anthony's fall away elbow jumper on the next possession put Molloy ahead 65-58 with less than 3:00 to go. Iona Prep suddenly had difficulty knocking down shots, with its only points the rest of the way coming on a late 3-pointer by Wills.
With the win, Molloy is now deadlocked with Christ the King for first place in the CHSAA B/Q Division, with both teams sitting at 7-2. The Stanners will face Long Island Lutheran on Friday night in the SNY Invitational at City College.
Thanks to St. Peter's, who stunned Archbishop Stepinac in overtime on Tuesday, Iona Prep retains sole possession of first place in the CHSAA NY Division with a record of 9-2. The Gaels will host Fordham Prep on Thursday before visiting Mount Saint Michael for their next league contest on Saturday.