Bishop Loughlin coach Chez Williams constantly reminds people how young and inexperienced his team is despite its early season success.
You needed no such reminder watching the Lions girls’ basketball team fall to upstate power Ossining 77–64 in the final of the Slam Dunk Tournament at the Westchester County Center on Dec. 29. Loughlin got 32 points from sophomore star Milia Reid, but she didn’t get the help she needed to beat a team of Ossining’s caliber.
Freshman center Zaria Dorsey was battling an injured knee, and senior guard Kiana Clark got into early foul trouble. Skydajah Patterson, who has been an unsung hero during Loughlin’s 10–2 start, scored 14 points, but they were spread out throughout the game. Williams made no excuses.
“People have to step up,” he said. “That’s just the bottom line. We are a young team. We are going to go through situations like this.”
There were missed box outs, turnovers, and missed defensive assignments. Ossining’s ball movement led to 23 assists and eight three-pointers as the Loughlin, which had eight assists, tried to keep up as best it could. The Hartford-bound Jalay Knowles beat the Lions inside with 36 points and Shadeen Samuels hit five three-pointers on her way to 25 points for Ossining.
“Ossining showed us our defense is not up to par,” Reid said.
Williams’s team needs to learn how to sustain a high level of play and pick itself up when things aren’t going well. Despite not playing its best, Loughlin was down just 55–50 heading into the fourth quarter.
Mistakes are going to happen. The key will be limiting them and overcoming them, like Loughlin has done before this season. Teams are going to adjust to its fast-paced, pressing style. It needs to adjust back, become crisper and more poised.
“When you have a young team, two and two isn’t always going to be four all the time. It might be 19,” Williams said. “You have to learn how to subtract those and minimize the mistakes.”
The loss may have cost the Lions a chance at a national ranking, but it is not a reason to panic. It is just a reminder of how long a way Loughlin has to go this season. The team hasn’t lost a league game, and owns wins over Christ the King and nationally ranked Shabazz (N.J).
“We proved to teams we are not anyone to sleep on,” Reid said.
A big contest awaits them Jan. 13 when the Lions visit unbeaten Archbishop Molloy, the early favorite to win the Brooklyn-Queens title.
Williams is happy with his club so far, and he and should be. It has met his expectations and exceeded those of most others up to this point. Loughlin is in position to be a major factor this season and beyond.
“I expected us to be where we are at,” Williams said. “Can we be better? I don’t think we have played our best game yet. It’s a learning experience.”