Mountaineers roll to victory
By Alex Myers
The Journal News
(Original Publication: December 17, 2006)
NEW YORK - In a rare occurrence, Stepinac's Melquan Bolding found himself the spectator to a dazzling basketball play.
While all eyes usually remain glued to the junior when he takes the court, this time he watched helplessly as Mount St. Michael's Brian Riley stepped in front of him to steal a pass and took off down the court. Bolding chased the Mountaineers' guard, but could only look up as Riley finished the play with a powerful, two-handed dunk that gave his team a staggering 25-point lead midway through the third quarter.
For the rest of the game, Bolding added a few more of his own highlights. Although Mount St. Michael would lose a good chunk of its lead, it still came away with a 69-58 win yesterday in a CHSAA Class A league matchup.
"It's nice to get another league win," Mountaineers coach Tom Fraher said. "Any time you play a kid like Bolding with all the hype he gets and deservedly so, the kids rise to the challenge."
Ryan Lobban had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Jarrett Malone had 17 first-half points to go with five rebounds and five assists for Mount St. Michael (5-1).
"I thought they made the difference," Fraher said. "There's not a team that can really match up with them, which helps us."
The Mountaineers also got a strong performance from junior point guard Kaseem Carr, who finished with 16 points and nine assists. His 3-pointer with 2:53 made the score 65-51.
But it was Riley's defense on Bolding in the first half that was the biggest key in establishing a big lead. The senior held Bolding to zero points during the second quarter. The Mountaineers outscored the Crusaders 26-10 during the period to take a 42-22 lead at the half.
"It was psychological because we're used to playing against each other from last year," said Riley, who had eight points and four assists. "I tried to get in his head and rattle him a little bit. It worked for a while."
It worked until midway through the third quarter when Bolding finally got it going. He scored 18 straight points for the Crusaders at one point and wound up with 24 in the second half to give him a game-high 31. He also added 11 rebounds, five steals and three spectacular dunks.
"Bolding can take a game over like that," Fraher said. "But we did a good job of playing defense and the kids stayed conscious of where he was. I thought we did a lot of good things today."
The Crusaders (3-1) came into the contest having won their first three games by an average of 30 points, and hadn't been held below 83 points. A sloppy first half on offense and defense put an end to those numbers.
"We're still off to a good start," Bolding said. "They're a good team, but they're beatable. Any team is beatable."
Tony Taylor had 18 points, and Corey Francis had seven rebounds for Stepinac. The Crusaders' day got worse when Taylor rolled his right ankle in the closing seconds.
"They're the returning city champs, but I thought we would have given a better effort in the first half," Stepinac coach Tim Philp said. "It's a good loss for us in December to learn our mistakes and what we have to overcome."
Stepinac will host the teams' second meeting Feb. 2.