A.J. Hoggard (above) and Archbishop Carroll topped Archbishop Wood to set up a rematch in the PCL quarterfinals. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)
For the past three seasons, Archbishop Carroll has had a postgame tradition.
Inspired by a book coach Paul Romanczuk, his assistants and his senior class read each year, the Patriots award a player a red construction hard hat after a victory.
“It goes to the guy who played the best, played the hardest, did the little things for the team to win,” sophomore guard A.J. Hoggard said.
One of the “little things” that can help someone get the hard hat is taking a charge. Before Monday’s night game against Archbishop Wood, Hoggard hadn’t taken one all season. During a run by Carroll at the end of the first half, he finally got one.
Hoggard scored 18 points and added seven assists in Archbishop Carroll’s 67-57 home win against Archbishop Wood on Monday night, which clinched a home game for the Patriots in the first round of the Philadelphia Catholic League playoffs. However, it was Hoggard’s defensive play at the end of the first half that Romanczuk said had him walking out of the locker room with a red hard hat in his hands.
“I say to the guys, the easiest way to get the hard hat is to take a charge,” Romanczuk said. “He took his first charge of the season, and obviously he did a lot of other things too. A.J. has become more and more resilient. More and more he’s become a better teammate as the season has progressed.”
Monday night’s matchup was a preview of the No. 4 and No. 5 seed matchup in Friday’s night’s PCL playoffs. With the rest of the league already done their seasons, Wood and Carroll, who were making up a rescheduled game, already knew they’d be facing each other again in four days.
The two teams came into the game tied in fourth place with eight wins each. Winner would get the No. 4 seed and home court advantage for Friday’s game and also pick up a nice win for the 5A state playoffs.
“It was kind of weird, but it meant a lot so we get home court advantage on Friday and just get closer to the Palestra, that’s the main goal,” Hoggard said.
The two teams were tied 13-13 after one quarter before Carroll built up a small lead early in the first. Hoggard was quiet at the start as senior Justin Anderson went on a roll, scoring 12 of his first 14 points in the first half.
Then, with 2:27 left in the second quarter and the Patriots up by six, Hoggard began to take the game over. He drilled a three, then another. Later, he took a charge and threw down a fastbreak dunk.
The spurt sent Carroll into the half with a 31-21 lead over the Vikings. Hoggard continued to have the hot hand at the start of the third quarter, throwing down a two-handed slam and converting an and-one to put the Patriots up by 15.
“I just started feeling it a little more than I did in the first quarter,” Hoggard said. “It just started coming to me, so I took my opportunity and ran with it.”
Wood was not going down without a fight though. Senior forward Karrington Wallace, who went scoreless in the first half. Scored seven of his nine points late in the third quarter to help pull the Vikings within six, 46-40, entering the fourth quarter.
After a Tyre Pickron bucket, the Vikings pulle within four. Then came consecutive buckets by Hoggard and Wood never narrowed the gap closer than five points the rest of the way.
Senior guard Andrew Funk did his best to will the Vikings back into the game, scoring a game-high 25 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. With his partner in crime Pickron, who scored seven points, having an off night, it was not enough.
“If you’re not making shots, it doesn’t matter,” Archbishop Wood coach John Mosco said. “You can get them in foul trouble like we did, all that stuff, but somebody besides Funk’s gotta score.”
After playing three games in four days to finish out the regular season because of rescheduled games, both team will have off of practice on Tuesday.
Wood and Carroll both had games on Sunday, so there wasn’t much time to go over scouting reports before Monday’s game. Each team will have two days of practice on Wednesday and Thursday to prep for Friday’s contest.
“We learned some new things that we can do on Friday that’s gonna help us pull it out,” Wallace said. “We gotta come out harder and just play real hard.”
“There’s not much else you can write on the board,” Mosco said. “It’s win or go home.”