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Reserves propel Molloy to win against Midwood

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The Archbishop Molloy girls’ basketball team hasn’t looked like the same squad that won the CHSAA Brooklyn/Queens title last season, ending Christ the King’s 23-year reign as diocesan champion.

And in the second quarter Sunday, the Stanners looked totally different – because they were. Because of illnesses and inconsistent play from its starters, Molloy’s reserves, especially Elise Lontos, Angela Contorno and Kathryn Edwards, got some playing time and actually got the their team the lead en route to a 49-37 win against Midwood at the 14th annual Francis Lewis Holiday Classic in Queens.

“That was huge,” first-year coach Tom Catalanotto said. “I’ve been saying we have a bench all along. … [The starters] were getting a little comfortable. You have to perform.”

Molloy (2-3) was down, 11-6, to start the second quarter before Lontos, Contorno and Edwards scored on three straight possessions. Another reserve, Julia Karsten, hit a jumper to give the Stanners a 14-13 lead with 5:40 left before halftime and they would not trail again.

“Whenever the bench goes in, they show an intense motivation to play,” said junior guard Marielle Duryea, who had a team-high 13 points.

There has been a bug or two spreading throughout the Molloy team – “everyone is either vomiting or coughing,” Duryea said – and this was an opportune time for the bench to shine. Junior sharpshooter Kelly Guerriero, the Stanners’ primary offensive option so far, was hit the hardest. She sat out the entire second half, but Lontos did a solid job in her place.

“I can play no minutes or I can play the whole game,” Lontos said. “Whatever we need.”

With the bench leading the way, the starters, with the exception of the sick Guerriero, came out playing better in the second half. Senior guard Shannon LaVelle had nine points, Contorno had seven points and Lontos added six.

The Stanners were trying to rebound from a disheartening loss to Bishop Kearney on Thursday.

“I think we’re starting to make that climb back to where we belong,” Catalanotto said.

As for Midwood (2-3), coach Artie LaGreca was pretty pleased with how his team played, especially on the defensive end. Jessica Previlon led the way with 16 points and Victoria Story added 10 points for the Hornets. LaGreca knows his team is still a work in progress, though.

“I don’t wanna be playing like this in February, put it that way,” he said.

LaGreca had mixed emotions about coming to the tournament Sunday. On Dec. 12, Mike Eisenberg was dismissed as Francis Lewis girls’ basketball coach and reassigned from his teaching job at the school due to unprofessional behavior. The two coaches are close friends and LaGreca if the godfather of Eisenberg’s baby daughter, Abigail.

“We made a commitment to the tournament,” LaGreca said. “I wouldn’t cheat my kids out of being seen by college coaches. Sometimes you have to put your personal feelings aside.”

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