Bishop Loughlin scored the first basket of the game and never looked back.
The Lions rolled to a 94–77 victory over Thomas Jefferson at the Third annual Apparel Classic in Queens on Jan. 8. Markquis Nowell and Keith Williams led the offensive charge, combining for 40 points.
“I told them to be aggressive and play with confidence,” said Loughlin coach Edwin Gonzalez. “I knew that [Jefferson] would come out and pressure us for 32 minutes, and I said, ‘Once we beat their press, let’s just go attack the basket.’ ”
Nowell was a force to be reckoned with in the first half, notching 19 points in the opening 16 minutes and sparking the Lions entire offensive effort.
The junior guard pushed the ball in transition, finding passing lanes and teammates as Bishop Loughlin went on a 17–4 run in the opening four minutes of the second quarter.
“I was just trying to be aggressive the whole first half and the whole game,” Nowell said. “We came out with that mindset and good things happened.”
Jefferson did its best to answer in kind on offense, but the dynamic duo of Williams and Nowell was simply too much for the Orange Wave to handle. Loughlin racked up 30 points in the second quarter alone, going into the break with a 13-point cushion.
“We knew what press they were going to run because we run the same press,” Nowell said. “We know how to break that, so I felt like that helped us to be aggressive and be attacking.”
The Lions didn’t slow down in the third quarter as Williams slammed down a two-handed dunk on Loughlin’s first possession of the second half. The Cincinnati commit notched one more third-quarter dunk for good measure and wrapped up the non-league matchup with 16 points.
Coach wanted us to control the tempo of the game and stay composed,” Williams said. “That moment was huge for me. It was just kind of about imposing my will and leaving my mark right there.”
Loughlin held a double-digit cushion throughout most of the game, never particularly challenged, and the lead gave the Lions squad a chance to showcase its roster depth. Nine players put points on the board, and Gonzalez was able to almost entirely clear his bench in the fourth quarter.
“They believe in me, and I believe in every single one of them,” Gonzalez said. “They all can contribute, and they’ve done that.”
The victory gives Loughlin a bit of Brooklyn bragging rights — it took down the reigning Public Schools Athletic League champs in convincing fashion — but the squad is far from satisfied. As far as the Lions are concerned, a win like this is just a message to every team — they’re not to be doubted.
“It shows we can compete against anyone,” Gonzalez said. “This is another good team, and you come play Brooklyn and it’s who’s the best, and the kids all know each other. It does have some bearing on them, and it says something about us.”