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Bishop Ford fails to clinch first place

Bishop Ford falters

Brooklyn Daily

The Bishop Ford girls basketball team has endured significant changes from the last time it had a chance to secure first place, with the suspensions of head coach Mike Toro and star Aaliyah Jones. The result, however, remained the same — a disappointing loss.

The Falcons couldn’t cash in the second chance and fell 52–49 to Archbishop Molloy in a tie-breaker game at St. Francis Prep Thursday night. Ford could have clinched the school’s first-ever Brooklyn-Queens Division I regular season crown on Feb. 12 also, but lost to Christ the King 45–44. Its inability to close those games out is not an issue with the coaches.

“We have been able to finish all year, so I really don’t consider this a problem,” Ford assistant coach Mary Gillespie said.

This defeat was more agonizing. Ford led 42–22 with 2:58 left in the third quarter without its leading scorer Jones, who was serving the first of a two-game suspension for getting into a fight with Nazareth’s Bianca Cuevas after a game on Feb. 3.

The school suspended Toro and athletic directors Pete Goyco and Eileen Egan on Wednesday as they looked into potential inappropriate financial benefits to members of the team. Mary Gillespie and fellow assistant coaches Eric Davis and Bruce Bishop led the team in Toro’s absence. Gillespie said players were not permitted to talk to the media because of a decision made by the school.

“This has nothing to do with Mike,” Gillespie said. “This is all about the girls and basketball. We are no even going to discuss that.”

The Falcons (18–7) took a 15-point lead into the fourth only to get outscored 22-4 in the final frame. Their only field goal was a Giolibeth Perez layup with 0.1 seconds remaining. Molloy (19–6) forced Ford to play a half-court and slowed-down style instead the up-tempo pace that characterized the first three quarters. The Falcons have struggled to play that way all season.

“We just had a mental lapse in the fourth quarter,” Davis said. “We stopped playing our game. When we do that, as you’ve seen through the season we lose games by one, two, three of four points.”

Molloy’s James Madison-bound guard Amani Tatum scored 19 of her 21 points in the second half, including 13 in the fourth quarter. Her steal and layup tied the score and on the next play she fed Carolyn Gallagher for a layup that put the Stanners ahead for good at 49–47.

“She’s a money ball player,” Gillespie said of Tatum. “She always steps up when she needs too.”

Brandi Segars paced Ford with 15 points and six rebounds. Aaliyah Lewis added eight points eight rebounds and six assists. The Falcons face St. Francis Prep 7 p.m. Tuesday at Archbishop Molloy in the semifinals.

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at jstaszewski@cnglocal.com. Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.

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