FRESH MEADOWS, NY – The spotlight was on a young surging Bishop Loughlin Lions. After knocking off two of the favored teams as they climbed through the playoffs, the Holy Cross Knights was but the last stop in what would have been a remarkable underdog story. But the Knights sought to rewrite the script.
“I just told them to play like we always do,” said Holy Cross head coach Paul Gilvary. “We are a very, very steady and consistent team,” he said.
The senior-laden Knights would comply with his request, playing a cohesive consistent game and staving off a hard charging Bishop Loughlin team. Paced by Marquise Moore‘s game high 25 points, Holy Cross would come away with the CHSAA “AA” Brooklyn/Queens Championship off a 60-57 victory.
Loughlin would not go quietly and would actually lead for most of the first half as 6’4 Elisha Boone (18 points) scored inside by being active around the rim. Tied at six, the Lions went on a 14-0 explosion as 6’1 Michael Williams (13 points) and Khadeen Carrington (16 points) scored frequently.
Down 22-10 with 4 minutes left in the second quarter, Coach Gilvary inserted a sophomore of his own due to early foul trouble. 6’1″ Joshua Wallace (4 points) would rise to the occasion and immediately attack the rim and earn an and-1 which sparked the Knights.
Anthony Libroia (10 points, 9 rebounds & 9 assists) would drain a trey followed by a defensive block by Mairega Clarke (10 points, 8 rebounds & 8 blocks). Buckets by Moore would cap off a 9-2 Holy Cross retaliation, pulling them to within 2 points as the half came to an end.
|Marquise Moore scored game high 25pts|
Still ahead 28-24 to start the third quarter, Loughlin continued to play scrappy and gang up on the boards but the Knights remained steady. With 1:37 left in the quarter Moore would come up big, finally tying the game at 35 and again at 37.
Ed Rocigno (10 points), who is described as “the glue guy” of the team by Coach Gilvary, came through in both word and deed in the second half. Holy Cross took a four point lead into the fourth quarter as part of a 9-0 run.
“There was point in the fourth quarter where I brought everyone together and I told them, its five seniors out there. We know what to do. We’ve been through situations like this before. So we had to stay calm.”
After the late 4th quarter get together, Rocigno, who scored all of his ten points in the second half, said,”We ran our set and we got open baskets.”
Moore also spoke up during the team’s huddle saying, “We’re seniors and they’re sophomores. They have two more years to win the championship. This is our last year so we’ve got to do this one now.”
Mid-range shots by Moore along with slashing penetration by Will Davis (8 points) gave Holy Cross a 6 point lead with 4:14 left in regulation. The Lions were down but not out.
Just as the Knights got added momentum from Wallace coming off the bench so did Loughlin as 6’3″ junior Jeff Lange (4 points) came in briefly and hit big shots. With 37.1 ticks remaining, Loughlin was only down 58-54. Two missed free-throws by Rocigno and a putback by Boone narrowed the gap to two.
|Anthony Libroia had 10pts, 9 rebs & 9 assts|
A defensive stop by the Knights would prevent the tie but two missed free-throws by Clarke gave Loughlin another bite at the apple.
Carrington would draw a foul and a chance to tie at the line with 7 seconds. The sophomore would net the first but would miss the second after Gilvary cleverly called a time-out to heighten his awareness of the pressure.
A scrum would ensue as both teams frantically hit the floor after the loose ball. Cross would get the jump ball with 3.6 seconds due to the possession arrow.
Holding onto a one point lead, Moore would get fouled with 2.8 seconds and with a smile, nailed both free-throws. Moore who went 9 for 9 from the charity stripe said, “I knew I was going to hit those shots.”
A final Hail Mary by Loughlin at the buzzer for the tie would careen off the rim and Holy Cross would take home the championship hardware.
The young Lions were disappointed by the loss but played a great game nonetheless. “No one expected us to be here,” said Loughlin head coach Ed Gonzalez who saw the game as an invaluable learning experience. “You just have to hug them and keep going,” he said.
Gilvary believed that the Holy Cross Knights played a solid game throughout. “The only thing we did wrong was miss a couple of foul shots at the end. Other than that, I think we played very well.” Gilvary, who recently won CHSAA Coach of year honors, lost his mother this week and was clearly emotional as he received the championship trophy. The team said they dedicated the win to him.
While the win was great, Rocigno said this is not the team’s ultimate goal. “The five of us have been playing together since freshman year and we’ve been on a mission since freshman year. This is a big win for us but the season’s not over. We wanna get that City championship.”