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Slow second half against Molloy sends Xaverian to another close defeat

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Experienced teams can find ways to win basketball games, but a young Xaverian squad has allowed winnable games to slip away.

The Clippers’ rebuilding season has been a rough one, and the struggle continued as an 11-point halftime lead disappeared in an eventual 52–44 loss to host Archbishop Molloy in Catholic High School Athletic League Class AA boys’ basketball Tuesday night.

Xaverian coach Jack Alesi saw the team’s inexperience a key factor in the defeat.

“We played very well the first half,” Alesi said. “We are a very young team and I think in the first half we executed. The second half, you have to do certain things to win the game and we are just not ready. We are very inexperienced, we don’t handle the ball real well, and we didn’t have much poise in the second half.”

The Clippers couldn’t execute against Molloy, which switched from a man-to-man defense to a zone in the second half. The Stanners held Xaverian to just four points in the third quarter and outscored it 34–15 in the half. Molloy was able to hold Xaverian to limited, second-chance opportunities and the quality of shots taken were not as good as the ones the Clippers took before halftime.

The lack of success on the offense end looked to be due to the change in the Molloy defense, but Alesi said it was more about his team’s execution than it was changes made by Molloy.

“With all due respect to Molloy, they’re a very good team, but this is more about what we didn’t do,” he said.

In the second quarter, the Clippers outscored the Stanners 20–5, after trailing 13–9 at the end of the first. Xaverian (8–10, 4–9) capped off the strong second quarter with a 10–0 run, led by senior Robert Rossiter. He led the team with 11 points. Molloy’s Jason Cethoute led all scorers with 13 points, and Columbia-bound guard C.J. Davis added 11 points.

Xaverian held a 29–18 lead at halftime. It was able to build that advantage on the Stanners (12–4, 8–3) by getting to the line and creating high-quality scoring opportunities, which put the home team in a hole going into the half. Xaverian, however, couldn’t maintain its momentum after the break.

The result was another close loss for the Clippers. This was Xaverian’s third consecutive defeat by 10 points or less. It fell to third-place Molloy 53–49 earlier this month. For Alesi and his squad, the talent is there, but the experience isn’t.

“The games where we get the lead and that are close are because, although we are young, we do have a lot of ability,” Alesi said. “The kids play hard, but they do not know how to win yet. We are playing sophomore, juniors, and freshmen. We are a young team.”

But Alesi said he’s not making excuses for his team letting wins slip away.

“That is not an excuse. It is the reason,” he said. “Young players have to sometimes go through things like this before they find what the answer is.”

Bishop Loughlin wins SNY Invitational: Seton Hall-bound guard Khadeen Carrington scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to help Loughlin to a 69–55 victory over St. Anthony’s (N.J.) in the SNY Invitational final at City College on Jan. 25. Mike Williams, who is headed to Rutgers, added 20 points and nine boards. The Lions host defending city champion Christ the King in a first-place battle on Jan. 31.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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