Speedy Claxton stood and applauded and flashed a familiar grin. A decade has passed since his little sister witnessed his crowning achievement as he led Hofstra to the NCAA Tournament. She was there for him then, he was here for her now.
With big brother Speedy in the house, Lisa Claxton helped Molloy qualify for the NCAA Division II Tournament.
"It's a great feeling," he said Sunday after his sister had 10 points and three assists in Molloy's 49-42 victory over Bridgeport in the ECC title game. "It's a special moment."
Lisa has made her big brother proud. "She started from such a young age. You could tell she was very talented," said Claxton, 31, now retired from the NBA.
Lisa attended high school at Cardinal O'Hara in Pennsylvania, where she was an honorable mention All-American and the 14th-ranked recruit in the nation. She spent one season at St. John's. "It wasn't the right fit for me," she said. But she earned her degree at St. John's and entered Molloy last fall to pursue a master's degree in criminal justice.
She is averaging 5.8 points and 2.6 assists for Molloy (21-7) and is more razzle-dazzle than her brother, going for the no-look pass whenever she can.
"I'm happy she got the fun back for the game and continued to keep playing," Speedy said.
He thought back to the 1999-2000 season, when he led Hofstra to the America East Conference title and a game against Oklahoma State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. "They were interviewing me after one of the games on TV, and you could see her in the background waving at me," Speedy said.
Lisa, 23, did not fully appreciate what transpired in that championship season. "I remember him running by and saying, 'We're going dancing,' " she said. As she cut down her portion of the twine Sunday, with her brother only a few feet away, she understood how full circle both had come.
"We used to play one-on-one in the rain and snow," she said. "I even beat him. I'll always remember, I beat him once."
The key sequence Sunday occurred midway through the second half after Emma Beddome's three-pointer brought Bridgeport (20-9) within 31-26. Claxton slashed her way to the basket in a move reminiscent of her brother, then hit a long three-pointer, and the lead was 10.
That left Speedy, as modest as Derek Jeter about his own feats, gushing about his sister's play. And he wasn't the only one. "She put the team on her back," Molloy coach Tim O'Hagan said. "All those crazy passes got everybody fired up."
Kymira Woodbury had seven points and 11 rebounds for Molloy and was named tournament MVP. Tatiana Lopez had nine points, all on three-pointers.