Despite coming into this match-up with a less than stellar record, Bishop Loughlin outlasted Brooklyn/Queens Division I rival Archbishop Molloy, at home in Fort Greene, 59-54.
The key early on for the Lions was constant ball pressure as they wrecked havoc with a relentless full-court press every time Molloy gained possession. Their energy on defense fed into their efforts on the offensive side of the ball as six Loughlin players would score a basket before the first quarter ended.
Junior guard Imani Tate had a big second quarter, putting up eight of her 12 points in the period. She did her damage early, getting to the line and putting in some important baskets to help her team maintain the lead.
By halftime, the Lions remained in control as they dictated the pace for a 34-28 lead.
Things didn't start changing for the Stanners until the third quarter, when junior Carolyn Gallagher, who only had three points up until that point, really turned things up. With her team down, she put them on her back as she exploded for 10 points in the quarter off some aggressive moves to the basket.
Her efforts helped the Stanners close the quarter out with only a two point deficit, 44-42, following a brief tie.
Gallagher, who finished with 18 points, wasn't through just yet as she continued on her torrid pace to start the fourth quarter. Her most exciting score of the game came off an inbounds play for Molloy with 3:50 left in regulation. With only a second left on the shot clock, Gallagher caught the ball seemingly behind the backboard and drained an improbable jumper to give her team their first lead of the contest.
Unfortunately for Molloy (12-4), that lead was short-lived as Keyanna Wilson found her way to the line for two critical free throws to regain the lead and the Lions reasserted themselves on offense. The full-court press was there once again, forcing Molloy into high pressure turnovers and Loughlin held on for the win.
The victory is an important benchmark for a Bishop Loughlin (7-6) team that has been going through a very up and down season. A win like this is big for them as they look to improve their standings in league play.
If this game is any indication, the Stanners know just how key it is to get Gallagher going early. Her presence was sorely missing in the first half and it may have changed the game had she been more involved in the offense early. Look for them to bounce back as they continue to vie for the top of the CHSAA rankings.