BRIARWOOD, NY -The Archbishop Molloy Stanners (6-1) had just earned its way off the bubble and into the #10 spot of the NYCHoops.net Top Ten but were immediately put to the test on Monday when they faced a ranked Westchester team, the Iona Prep Gaels (4-3).
With solid defense and an effective strategy, Molloy passed the test with flying colors, completely shutting down Iona Prep, 86-60.
The plan was simple said Molloy Head Coach Mike McCleary. Stop the Gaels primary scorer. "[Matt] Ryan's such a big player for them so wanted to make sure we were there with him the whole time and we wanted to play under his right hand [and] make him dribble with his left hand, going to his left and it was effective tonight."
Ryan, who normally averages in the twenties, was held to just seven points. "They were playing me full court with the guy's head in my chest so it's tough to adjust to," Ryan said after the game.
That guy was Gabe Kilpatrick (20 points & 4 rebounds) who was charged with the task of guarding Ryan throughout the evening. Coach McCleary said that the 6'4" senior was "big enough, strong enough and quick enough to be a real problem for him."
The Stanners jumped out to a 10-2 lead as Kilpatrick nailed a three-pointer with 4:18 left in the first quarter. The Gaels mounted a comeback as guard Isaiah Ice (17 points) slashed to the lane and Ty Jerome (14 points) scored from the perimeter but they still trailed by 11 points to start the second quarter.
Jerome quickly sliced Molloy's advantage to 5 points and Ryan finally got off a quick trey, midway through the quarter finishing off an 11-2 Gaels run. Suddenly, Iona Prep was only down 24-22 but a matador defensive lapse allowed Molloy to reestablish a 48-30 half time lead with 6'5" senior Jason Cethoute (20 points & 7 rebounds) scoring in the paint and 6'2" junior D'Ante Warren (19 points & 2 assists) hitting a buzzer beater.
In the third quarter, Iona Prep cut Molloy's lead to 15 but with each push forward they made, the Stanners received offensive and defensive pushback from Kilpatrick, Cethoute and senior point guard C.J. Davis (10 points, 9 assists & 5 rebounds). Davis orchestrated the team beautifully throughout the game.
At the top of the fourth quarter, Iona Prep was in a 21 point hole. 4:32 remained in regulation and still down 77-54, Gaels Head Coach Vic Quirolo threw in the white flag and subbed out his starters.
Warren punctuated the win with back-to-back-to-back three-balls.