If Bishop Loughlin’s 72–64 loss to the Archbishop Molloy Stanners on Wednesday was first game jitters, then new Lions coach Chez Williams hopes those jitters are behind them.
The Fort Greene’s girls basketball squad dragged its feet through most of the home match, but managed to cut a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to three before falling to Archbishop Molloy. Yet Williams, who took over this year for fired Lions coach Kasim Alston, says it should be smooth sailing from here.
“We needed to get the first game out of our system,” said Williams, who claimed his squad finally played they way he had hoped after Molloy took a 56–42 lead with 5:20 left in the game. “The team has a new coach and a different style of play. Now we just play basketball.”
Loughlin, which won the state Federation Class A title last season, ripped off a 14–2 run behind LaSalle-bound Jasmine Alston and Albany-bound Imani Tate, who scored a game-high 24 points. Tate’s layup after a 3-point play from Alston, pulled Loughlin within 65–62 with 1:25 remaining. The style reminded Alston of last year’s squad.
“It felt like old times. We were playing a fast-pace type of game,” she said.
But two missed free throws and a turnover spoiled any chance of the Lions completing the stellar comeback. Molloy, which opened the door with missed free throws of it own, was led by Columbia-bound senior Carolyn Gallagher, who missed most of the first half with foul trouble. She scored 14 of her 17 points after the break as James Madison-bound point guard Amani Tatum added 14 points.
Alston said the transition under Williams, an assistant on last year’s team, has gone smoothly despite the loss. He’s preached even more defense and using that to produce offense — a tactic Williams claims finally happened late in the game.
“It’s new for them because I’m demanding on the defensive side.” he said. “When we played it right, they changed the game.”
Another thing that will need changing is making sure that Alston and Tate get the scoring help they need. The dynamic duo finally got some during the late run from forward Olivia Colbert and a straight on 3-pointer from sophomore guard Kenia Clark to get Loughlin with in 61–58 with 3:35 remaining in the game.
Even the players want to see this type of action throughout the game moving forward.
“If we started the way we ended I think it would have been a whole different game,” Alston said. “When they get use to playing it’s going to be easier on everybody.”
Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.