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Stanners hoping for break in slump

Molloy Coach Jack Curran thinks this Stanners team could be the best one in a few years. Photo by Denis Gostev
TimesLedger Newspapers

Archbishop Molloy has been scuffling through perhaps the worst stretch of legendary basketball Coach Jack Curran’s 53 seasons on the bench recently. The Stanners are no longer thought of as one of the city’s elite teams year-in and year-out, not since the school went co-ed in 2000 and increased its academic standards exponentially.

Curran is usually the first one to admit it.

With that being said, this group, led by two strong sophomores, might mark the start of something big.

Curran calls C.J. Davis, a 6-foot-1 point guard, one of his best young players in a long time. The 10th-grader has high major Division I offers already, before he has played a single varsity game. Gabe Kilpatrick, a versatile guard, will be his running mate, presumably for this year and the next two.

Their play and the improvement of some inexperienced older players has Curran cautiously optimistic.

“We’re doing pretty good,” said the coach, who has been inducted into nine different Halls of Fame during his storied career. “A little better than we thought.”

For the first time in years, Molloy will have some size and depth in the frontcourt. Marco Kozul, a talented 6-foot-4 wing, likes to play on the perimeter, but the Stanners will need him to bang down low once he gets back fully from an ankle injury.

With him nicked up, the team will rely on 6-foot-5 senior forward Morrell Haskins and 6-foot-4 Darden Ostrozubi. Curran said Haskins went for 20 points and 14 rebounds in a scrimmage Nov. 22 with defending CHSAA Class B champion Salesian. Initially, those two were not expected to play much, but they have been a pleasant surprise.

“[Haskins] is getting better every time he plays,” Curran said. “They’re a big help.”

Molloy has pieces in the backcourt to go along with Davis and Kilpatrick, too. George Davis, the team’s returning point guard, will be on the floor a lot once he comes back from a concussion and shoulder injury he suffered in a recent scrimmage. Brian Kruger and Tyler Bennett are dead-eye shooters and Cristian Giles and Isaiah Tucker should also get plenty of minutes. Curran says another pleasant surprise, junior Chaz Walter, has “looked terrific.”

“Defensively, he just disrupts people,” the coach said. “When guys dribble he’s always there. He’s quick as a whip and he’s shooting the ball good lately. He has kind of a weird shot, but it’s working, so we’re not gonna disturb it too much.”

The team’s biggest strength could be its depth. Curran said there’s been little drop off in scrimmages when guys come off the bench. But make no mistake: Davis is going to make the Stanners go. Curran says he’s the key guy.

“The way he plays the game, he makes it look easy,” he said of the fluid point guard. “He doesn’t look like he’s trying to do anything, yet things always get done.”

The legendary coach says rebounding will be the key, though he isn’t too worried about that since Davis and Kilpatrick are also adept at crashing the boards. Put it all together and this could be a big year in Briarwood.

“The last couple we haven’t been very good,” Curran said. “I think we’re better than the last few years — I hope.”

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