Photos by Albert Roman
The Stepinac Crusaders hold the Royals to 26 second-half points.
BY ALBERT ROMAN
Archbishop Molloy’s varsity basketball team defeated All Hallows 78-59 to advance to the semifinals in the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) Playoffs on March 5, while a late third-quarter rally by Archbishop Stepinac sank Christ the King, 78-67.
The Molloy Stanners were led by a dominating performance by CHSAA League First Team junior Moses Brown, who posted 28 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks. Junior Khalid Moore added 21 points and seven rebounds.
Sophomore Cole Anthony scored six of the team’s eight opening quarter points, but quickly picked up three fouls in the first quarter. He did not play in the second quarter and was limited the rest of the game. Junior Tse provided a spark off the bench for the Stanners as he scored four points and eight assists.
In the first period, Brown put Molloy ahead with a layup, 12-9. All Hallows’ senior Carnell White began an 8-0 run for the team, pushing them ahead. A dunk by Moore in the closing seconds of the first quarter ended the scoring drought for the Stanners.
Molloy opened the second quarter on an 11-2 run to take a six-point lead, 25-19, causing All Hallows’ head coach Marvin McCullough to call a timeout. The Gaels responded by going on an 11-5 run of their own.
White tied the game at 30 with 1:01 remaining before halftime. A pair of free throws and a dunk gave Molloy a 34-30 lead at the end of the second period.
In the third, a jump shot by junior Donald Hartley cut the Gaels’ deficit to two. This is the closest the team would get as they were unable to contain Moore. He scored nine third- quarter points, including a dunk on two defenders. Molloy gained momentum and took a 52-46 lead into the final period. They never relinquished the lead.
The Stanners controlled the fourth quarter by outscoring the Gaels 26-13. Brown scored 10 of his 28 points in the period. With a dunk in the fourth, Anthony surpassed 1,000 career points.
In Christ the King’s game, Archbishop Stepinac used a 20-point swing to turn a nine-point deficit into an 11-point victory. Freshman RJ Davis led all scorers with 23 points, including going 12 for 12 from the free-throw line.
Senior Jorden Means added 22 points and junior Alan Griffin posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Royals sophomore Kofi Cockburn finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Jose Alvarado ended his Christ the King career with 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists.
He opened his final game for Christ the King with a three-pointer to put the Royals ahead. Both teams would exchange buckets until Cockburn scored a layup and drew a foul. He proceeded to sink the free throw and extend the lead to five, 17-12.
The Royals continued to build a lead in the second quarter, when Alvarado caused a turnover and began a fast break sequence in which he passed the ball to junior Tyson Walker, who proceeded to dish it to sophomore Jared Harrison-Hunte for a layup. The basket pushed the lead to 13, causing the Crusaders to call a timeout with 3:43 remaining in the half.
A score and free throw by Means cut the lead to nine for Stepinac as they trailed at halftime, 41-34. Alvarado, Cockburn and Walker combined for 27 first-half points.
Alvarado again opened up the quarter with a three-pointer. The Crusaders added three consecutive scores to trim the lead. Cockburn responded with a dunk and drew a foul to build a nine-point lead for the Royals, 54-45.
Davis ignited a furious third-quarter run for the Crusaders with a three- pointer. The Royals could not score for the remainder of the period. With 44.9 seconds remaining in the third, Griffin tied the game at 54 with a pair of free throws.
After a miss by Christ the King, Means assisted a layup by junior Xavier Wilson to give the team its first lead since the first quarter, where they led 4-3. The Crusaders ended the period on an 11-0 run. During the run, Alvarado drew his fourth foul, one away from exiting the game.
The Crusaders continued their run in the fourth by forcing three consecutive Royals’ turnovers and scoring on each possession. In an instant, Christ the King now faced an eight-point deficict, 62-54. With 6:19 remaining in the fourth quarter, Cockburn ended the 17-0 run with a free throw.
A dunk by Wilson pushed the lead to 10 for Stepinac. The Royals scored six straight in a final attempt to rally back.
With the Crusaders holding on to the four-point lead, Davis secured the victory by scoring nine of the team’s final 11 points from the free-throw line, including seven consecutive free throws made.
The Royals struggled to score on the offensive end in the fourth, scoring 13 total points, six of which came from the free-throw line. Stepinac outscored Christ the King 44-26 in the second half.
Christ the King concluded its season with an 18-10 record. Molloy pursues its first CHSAA Championship since 1987.