Ryan Wooley took his best shot Saturday. Make that his three best shots.
"Coach always tells me in practice to take the shots," the St. Anthony's junior said. So even though Wooley, a substitute, generally defers to other players in the offense, he was the open man in the second half and his trio of treys were the keys to the Friars' 48-45 victory over Bay Shore in the Long Island Challenge at St. Dominic.
The 5-9 Wooley gave St. Anthony's a 34-33 lead with 1:08 left in the third quarter from the left wing. With 3:31 left in the fourth quarter, Wooley struck again from straightaway to once more put the Friars ahead, this time at 41-39.
Then came his biggest shot, from the right wing, to put St. Anthony's on top for good at 46-43 with 1:40 left.
The Marauders closed to within 46-45 on two free throws by Kadeem Toppin, but Marc Ciccarelli iced it by nailing two free throws with four seconds left. St. Anthony's is 1-2. Bay Shore is 0-2.
Two of Wooley's three-pointers came on kick-out passes by Nico Roberts, the son of St. John's coach Norm Roberts, who penetrated, drew the double-team and found his teammate unguarded. "It's choose your poison," Wooley said. "Bay Shore chose to collapse on Nico and I was able to make the shots. That's what I'm supposed to do when my number is called."
Roberts, who scored all nine of his points in the second half, had confidence in Wooley and didn't hesitate to give him the ball. "He's a shooter. They collapsed on me and played off him," Roberts said.
Defense dominated this one as Bay Shore stuck with an aggressive man-to-man the entire game and St. Anthony's countered with a matchup zone. It wasn't pretty, especially on offense, but both teams showed grit and hustle, diving for loose balls and crashing the boards to chase down all those errant shots. Jordan Allen led Bay Shore with 14 points, 10 in the third quarter.
Games like this always raise the question: Was it good defense or poor offense? Jim Fenton, in his first season at St. Anthony's, answered: "Good defense. We prepared well and tried to match up with their shooters. They defended us very well, too."
Except for those open shots by Wooley. "When Nico kicks it out, you hope you can take advantage," Wooley said. "This is what I live for."