The Bishop Ford Falcons blew a third-quarter, 10-point lead in a 66–60 loss to New Jersey-power Shabazz on Saturday night at John F. Kennedy High School in Patterson, N.J.
Shabazz’s Doniyah Cliney three straight 3-pointers to close out the third quarter reversed momentum in the game, forcing Ford to focus its defense on the outside, which opened up the paint for star forward Zaire O’Neil, who dominated the fourth quarter.
“We knew [Cliney] could shoot, but we were more concerned with [O’Neil],” Falcons coach Mike Toro said of his initial game plan. “[But Cliney] hit three threes in a row and now you got to come out.”
Aaliyah Lewis paced Ford with 23 points and six assists and Jill Conroy added 21 points. O’Neil dropped in 25 points and grabbed 14 rebounds and Cliney added 23 points, including four 3-pointers.
Toro and the Ford players know O’Neil and Cliney well, having played with them in multiple summer leagues coach by Toro, which added a friendly rivalry to the game.
“They were saying [before the game], we can’t talk to you, we don’t want to talk to you until after the game,” Toro said.
The Falcons (7–4) were within 52–50 with 4:46 left in the contest. They missed open shots and watched Shabazz (7–0) go on a 7–0 run. Ford got as close as four after Conroy ripped a rebound out of O’Neil’s hands and Aaliyah Jones made two free throws down with 2:28 left to play.
But Conroy ultimately expected a better response from her team.
“We didn’t bounce back from it the way we should have, the way we can,” she said.
This is the third big game the Falcons were unable to close out. It lost to league rival Archbishop Molloy before Christmas and fell to Archbishop Spalding (Md.) in the final of the Diamond State Classic over the holidays. Toro doesn’t see it as a negative. He’s happy his team is competing with elite programs.
“Granted we don’t win, but we are in the game, it’s got to give us some type of confidence going into league play,” he said.
Ford forward Blake commits to Molloy College: Falcons senior Tanasia “Sweets” Blake accepted a full scholarship to play women’s basketball at Division II Molloy, she told the Courier after the game. Molloy plays a unique fast paced, quick-shooting and pressing style, based on Grinnell College Dave Arseneault’s “The System.” Blake felt it fit her athleticism and talents well.
“I really liked it,” she said. “Coming into the season I felt I had to shoot the ball more, then when I got there they were saying we are all a bunch of shooters. We constantly shoot the ball.”Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewsk
©2013 Community News Group
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