Ty Pickron (above) had 22 points to lead Archbishop Wood to a 68-55 win over BeCaHi on Sunday afternoon. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
ALLENTOWN -- Just past the midway point of the Catholic League schedule, Archbishop Wood has some work to do.
The defending PCL champs entered the weekend at 4-3 through the first seven games of the conference slate, sitting in eighth place in the 14-team league; the Vikings are just 7-7 overall, having played an incredibly difficult non-league slate against the likes of DeMatha (Md.), Immaculate Conception (N.J.) and Montverde Academy (Fl.). They’ve already lost two home games in league play, and were fresh off a road loss at Neumann-Goretti on Friday evening.
It’s not the way the team’s four seniors expected things to go, not after winning 28 games and a state championship a year ago.
“[It’s] somewhat frustrating,” senior guard Andrew Funk said, “but I think we’re playing hard, so you can only get so frustrated when guys are playing hard. I think it’s only a matter of time before we start firing.”
Sunday’s non-league contest against Bethlehem Catholic in the Hoop Group’s Lehigh Valley Showcase wasn’t an opportunity for Wood to improve on its standings in the PCL, tough a loss suffered by Archbishop Ryan also on Sunday afternoon bumped the Vikings up one spot in the standings. But it was a chance to generate some positive momentum for the stretch run, with several other league contenders still to come.
Trailing by three after a shootout of a first half to one of the top teams in the Lehigh Valley, Wood found its rhythm on both ends of the court, outscoring BeCaHi by 14 in the third quarter and holding on for a 68-55 win.
“We’re play well and coming up on the short end, but we need to play 32 minutes,” Wood coach John Mosco said. “Today we played close to it and we came up on the right side of the ledger. We’re just trying to play consistent.”
Funk, a 6-foot-3 combo guard and Bucknell commit, came up with eight of his 12 points in the third quarter, a decisive frame which saw the Vikings enter it trailing 39-36 and leave it with a 56-45 advantage. Funk had only attempted three shots in the first half -- all 3-pointers, making one -- but was much more aggressive in the third, taking it to the rack on several occasions; he also finished with four rebounds and three assists.
Mosco compared it to last year, when current Villanova guard Collin Gillespie would often defer early but then know when it was his time to shine, often taking over entire second halves. With fellow senior Tyree Pickron pouring in 18 of his game-high 22 points in the first half, Funk felt no need to force the issue.
“I thought Andrew really showed leadership today...he kept saying ‘find the hot hand, find the hot hand,’” Mosco said. “Tyree was hot in the beginning and it looked like their goal was to take Andrew out of our offense, and he just let it come to him.”
Northwestern-bound big man Ryan Young had 16 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and three steals and junior guard Justin Paz matched him with 16 points of his own for BeCaHi (15-3), which was ranked No. 3 in the 4A classification in Michael Bullock’s latest state rankings; Wood is No. 3 in the 5A class.
Like Wood for its league play, BeCaHi was using the game as a chance to gear up for what it hopes is a deep run in the state bracket.
“It’s great preparation for us to come out here and play a great all-around team like that in front of a great crowd,” Young said, “so I think it’s awesome for all of us.”
Junior wing Julius Phillips and freshman guard Rahsool Diggins each added 10 apiece for Wood, which continues its league play with a Tuesday road trip to a West Catholic squad that is only 2-6 in the league but showed how tough it is by taking Bonner-Prendergast to the wire on the road last week.
Starting with a Friday game against Bishop McDevitt, Wood will play five games in nine days to close out the season, including trips to St. Joe’s Prep (6-3) and Archbishop Carroll (6-2) and a home game against Roman Catholic (5-2). Sweep those five, and Wood will be no worse than third in the league; lose a couple, and they’re looking at needing to win a playoff game just to get in the league quarterfinals, not to mention a much tougher draw to get to the Palestra.
“We’re just worried about game-by-game, because we know this year is crazy,” Pickron said. “We could end up third and still be in a great spot. We’re just worried about the next win.”
“Big-Game” James leads Harrisburg to win over Parkland
Tony James did the heavy lifting early for Harrisburg. His teammates picked him up at the end.
The 6-foot-1 senior guard dropped 24 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Cougars to a 62-52 win over Parkland in the opening game of the Hoop Group event.
James was dominant in the first quarter, hitting his first five shots and finishing the frame with 16 points, eight rebounds and two assists, giving him a hand in every bucket Harrisburg scored in the frame. But his team was up only 21-19, and couldn’t shake Parkland for the next two quarters; it was 26-all at half and knotted at 38 after three.
Harrisburg (13-6) put it away with an 11-0 run to open the fourth, getting key buckets from James, senior NaReece Glenn (nine points) an djunior guard Ali Anthony (six points), as well as a whole bunch of free throws, and Parkland didn’t have a response.
The Trojans (9-9) were led by a 23-point, six-rebound effort from Logan Rindock; senior Jake Bartholomew had 15 and six boards and sophomore wing Jake Melady added 10 points and five rebounds.