A season filled with so much promise came to a disappointing end Wednesday night. St. Anthony's broke into the national rankings with a one-point win over Riverdale Baptist of Maryland on Feb. 11, but finished the season playing what its coach called its worst basketball of the season.
St. Anthony's blew a 10-point lead after three quarters and lost in overtime, 58-55, to Molloy in the first round of the state CHSAA Class AA girls basketball tournament at St. Francis Prep.
St. Anthony's (23-5), which is ranked No. 21 in the country by USA Today, escaped a sloppy game to win the NSCHSAA title for the second straight season with a 51-48 win over St. John the Baptist Sunday. Molloy (19-9) plays Moore Catholic in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Friday at Molloy in Queens.
"These last three games were our worst of the season," St. Anthony's coach Ken Parham said. "We didn't play well again."
It didn't help that the Friars played the overtime without their two best players. Siena-bound Symone Kelly (16 points) fouled out with three minutes left in regulation and Rebecca Musgrove fouled out with 30 seconds left in the fourth. Starter Johanna Impellizeri also had four fouls.
"Offensively, we lost our composure," Parham said. "We had sophomores on the court who are used to deferring."
Amani Tatum (20 points) scored on a drive to the hoop with 2:35 left in overtime to give Molloy the lead for good at 48-47. The big shot came from Kamille Ejerta, who nailed a three-pointer with 44 seconds left to extend the margin to 51-47. Nyasha Irizarry hit two free throws with 38 seconds left for a 53-47 lead.
Carolyn Gallagher hit two free throws to tie the score at 46 for Molloy. St. Anthony's led 41-31 after three quarters, but couldn't do anything offensively in the fourth. The Friars were outscored 15-5 in the quarter. Gallagher scored on an open layup with 1:34 left in the fourth quarter to cap a 12-3 run and bring Molloy within 44-43.
"We had some nice accomplishments this season," Parham said. "Breaking into the national rankings was great. It's a disappointing to end this way."