Bishop Loughlin is going to go through some growing pains this year with its young and relatively inexperienced team.
The Lions faced a veteran Iona Prep team with two Division I recruits in junior Ty Jerome (Virginia) and senior Matt Ryan (Notre Dame), and fought hard before falling 71–57 at home in CHSAA Class AA boys’ basketball last Saturday.
Loughlin (2–5, 1–3) got into early foul trouble and its inability to close out on an Iona team with exceptional shooters was a big factor in the defeat.
“We didn’t execute defensively the way we should have,” said Loughlin head coach Ed Gonzalez. “We had early foul trouble. Four out of our five starters had two fouls early in the second quarter, and that forced us to sit them.
Loughlin’s inexperience this season is due to the loss of seniors from last year’s squad, including Mike Williams (Rutgers), and the school’s all-time leading scorer Khadeen Carrington (Seton Hall). This year’s young roster is still adjusting to playing in one of the best leagues in the country.
“We had a lot of seniors last year,” said senior Dominic Grayer. “This year we have mostly sophomores and juniors that are used to doing things and taking shots they cannot take at the varsity level and that’s something we’re working on in practice.”
Loughlin started the game on a 5–0 run and looked like they would give Iona a run for its money. But the experienced Gaels (8–3, 5–2) fought right back, ending the first quarter on a 16–2 spurt and never relinquishing the lead for the rest of the contest.
Iona’s defensive pressure forced Loughlin to make unwarranted passes that led to turnovers, especially in the first half. The Lions struggled to get anything on either side of the ball as Iona got too many open shots and took a 32–19 lead into the half.
After the break Loughlin seemed to be more aggressive on the defensive end and it contested more of Iona’s shots, cutting the deficit to 10. That was as close as the Lions got. Iona was able to put the game away by controlling the tempo in the fourth quarter.
Sophomores Jordan Thomas and Keith Williams both scored 16 points for Loughlin. Jerome led Iona with 28 points and senior Thomas Capuano pitched in with 25 points.
Loughlin does have room to improve, and has experience coming off of the bench in seniors Dior Dixon and Devin Dingle and junior Israel Farrington, all transfers from Bishop Ford. Gonzalez says the learning process has been slow with the three transfers, but he feels they will be okay as he and his staff continue to gauge how each improves. Loughlin is young but it is a team with talent that believes it can hang with the league’s top teams.
“We’re going to compete,” Gonzales said. “Our goal is to be in the final game. They are young kids and they will get better. As long as they keep working hard, they are going to surprise some people.”