Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
(Ed. Note: I was only planning on doing a write-up of some standouts from the final three games of this event. And then Archbishop Wood and Paul VI (Va.) capped off the night by going...well, deep into the night. So I changed things up a little bit.)
It was The Game That Never Ended. Archbishop Wood and Paul (Va.) met for the nightcap of the Diane Mosco Shootout in what was supposed to be a high-level affair, but nobody expected it to be as high-drama...or as high-scoring. Or, really, for it to be anything like how it went.
When Paul VI’s Trevor Keels knocked down an NBA-range-and-then-some 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer to tie things up, nobody knew that only about half the game was done. The Vikings and Panthers played seven overtimes, an extra 28 minutes, the longest game even the most seasoned scouts in attendance could remember watching. The result was 130-128, Paul VI, but nobody really cared about that afterwards.
“It was everything you could ask for as a fan, at an event like this, for my wife,” said Wood coach John Mosco, who’s held the fundraising hoops event each of the three seasons since his wife Diane passed away in 2017 after a battle with cancer. “And for my team to play like that, they left themselves on the floor, they left everything out on the floor and did whatever they could go win the game.”
There was something of everything in 60 minutes of action. Keels’ heroics in regulation weren’t the last; Wood’s Daeshon Shepherd hit his own crazy shot at the end of the fifth overtime, sending the Vikings’ gymnasium into pandemonium for about the 43rd time. Jaylen Stinson had his own game-tying buckets for Wood, and Dug McDaniel carried Paul VI on his back for about three overtimes.
By the time the game was over, almost all of the stars –– and there were plenty on both sides, like future Duke point guard Jeremy Roach on Paul VI and high-major 2021 target Rahsool Diggins on Wood –– had fouled out, mostly in regulation or the first couple overtimes. The last few four-minute stanzas were played with deep reserves, and then deeper reserves.
Mosco said at one point during a timeout, he had to tell everybody who’d fouled out to go to the bench, so he could see who he had left. Paul VI’s Glenn Farello was in a similar situation, relying on his youngsters down the stretch. It’s deeper than either would ever like to go during a league game, but it made for some great theater.
“We talked about it, we told them, we work on situations every night in practice, every day in practice, and that was a situation,” Wood’s seventh-year boss added. “We’re down, you need to play, we treat our 13th player like we treat our No. 1 player. They all get shots, they all get reps, and they’ve got to be ready at any time to play.”
All-in-all, the nightcap took more than 3.5 hours to play, finishing off a six-game slate of hoops that also included the Wood girls picking up a big win over Archbishop Ryan, as well as victories for Norristown (over Scranton Prep), Archbishop Ryan (over Plymouth-Whitemarsh), Roman Catholic (over Methacton), and Neumann-Goretti (over Malvern Prep).
After a long day of hoops, some fans headed headed to the doors even while the finale was still ongoing, with each successive overtime’s ending leading to small trickles of exits.
“I looked up one time, I said ‘why are people leaving?’” Mosco said with a laugh. “I mean, this has to be a state record or something. I don’t know, you think everybody got their $10 worth?”
The craziness doesn’t end anytime soon for Archbishop Wood. The Vikings have a 6 AM flight on Sunday morning to head out to Hawai’i, where they’ll play four games in four days from Wednesday to Saturday in the Iolani Classic.
“We have to be at the airport at 4 AM,” Mosco said. “And I’ve still got to go pack.”
Freshman guard Xzayvier Brown (above) was stellar off the bench for Roman Catholic. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Here are several players who stood out from the final three games of the evening: Roman Catholic’s win over Methacton, Neumann-Goretti’s win over Malvern Prep, and the Wood/Paul VI epic:
Xzayvier Brown (Fr./Roman Catholic)
Brown isn’t the prospect that will draw eyes to Roman this year –– sophomores Justice Williams and Jalen Duren will take care of that. And both Williams (14 points/5 rebounds/3 assists) and Duren (12 points/10 rebounds) were solid in the win over Methacton, but not more than that. So the only writeup from the team goes to Brown, a 6-2 freshman who came off the bench for 10 points, four rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals. What says the most about Brown is that Roman coach Matt Griffin had him on the floor in the fourth quarter of a close game in a big-game atmosphere. And Brown made that decision pay off, going 4-of-4 from the foul line late in the game.
Rahsool Diggins (Jr./Archbishop Wood)
All five Wood junior starters are going to get a mention in this roundup, and with good reason. Diggins is the biggest name on the squad at this point, and the 6-3 point guard with a bevy of high-majors didn’t disappoint. Before fouling out in the first overtime, Diggins scored 26 points on 9-of-17 shooting, including 4-of-8 from downtown, and 4-of-5 from the foul line; he also had seven rebounds and four assists, plus three blocks. A two-way player, Diggins controls the game with the ball in his hands, and he’s an improved outside shooter though his form isn’t typical.
Rahdir Hicks (Jr./Malvern Prep)
Hicks played an efficient floor game for a Malvern Prep squad that struggled shooting out of the gate but found its footing by the second and third quarters to make things interesting against Neumann-Goretti. Hicks finished with 14 points, which was third-highest on his team, but did so on 4-of-7 shooting, including 5-of-6 from the foul line. Hicks did a good job of handling the Saints’ pressure defense, got into the lane, found teammates on the perimeter, and limited his mistakes.
Trevor Keels (Jr./Paul VI, Va.)
One of two stud prospects who played like it on the Panthers, Keels is one of the best wings in 2021, and it showed tonight. The muscular 6-5 guard had 30 points and seven rebounds, hitting that game-tying 3 to close out regulation, but he had plenty more impressive moments, including some and-one takes through contact and a nice jump-stop, pull-up jumper from the mid-range. He's the real deal, and he'll have his pick of colleges.
Hysier Miller (Jr./Neumann-Goretti)
Another reserve who turned in a star performance was Miller, a 6-2 guard who played his first two seasons at Martin Luther King but really seems to be coming on strong in his first year with the Saints. Miller's effort and hustle were apparent as he worked his way to 20 points and 12 rebounds, including six on the offensive end. Miller had several possessions where he kept alive second and third-chance opportunities on the glass, and also did a good job of getting past his defender and into the lane, as well as causing problems in transition. Afterwards, he picked up his first D-I offer, from Rider.
Jeremy Roach (Sr./Paul VI, Va.)
Roach is headed to Duke next year, so that gives you an idea of the reputation he carried with him into Wood. Though the 6-2 point guard took a little while to get going, he eventually wound his way to 31 points on 10-of-21 shooting, going 10-of-12 from the line, including all seven attempts in the fourth quarter and overtime. He's got a blazing first step, the ability to seemingly hover as he goes to the rim, and his body control in the lane is fantastic. Also had seven rebounds, three steals, and three assists.
Daeshon Shepherd (Jr./Archbishop Wood)
One of the best athletes in the area, the 6-5 Shepherd is rounding into a talented high-major wing in his own right. He went for 35 points, all in the second half and overtimes, carrying the Wood reserves for three or four overtimes basically all by himself. Shepherd's outside shot is still coming around, but he knocked down a pair of triples, and was strong from the line as well, hitting something like 13-of-16 (my stat-keeping got a little wonky in the 7th OT) from the line. Perhaps most impressive was the fact he picked up two fouls in the first 1:20 of the game, and then managed to play all seven overtimes without fouling out, the only starter on his team to do so.
Jaylen Stinson (Jr./Archbishop Wood)
Okay, one more Wood junior. Stinson, a 6-1 guard, splits point guard and scoring guard duties with Diggins, and tonight he got the chance to show both. He was especially good in the mid-range, hitting at least five or six pull-up jumpers, going 10-of-17 from the floor, 1-of-3 from deep, and 9-of-14 from the line, plus five rebounds, three assists, and two steals. Even playing against terrific guards, he was able to get into the lane and get his shot, and that bodes well for the future.
Erik Timko (Sr./Methacton)
One of the big breakout products of last season, Timko looked confident coming out against Roman Catholic, and proved that he was one of the best players on the floor with a 17-point performance. Timko is an athletic, versatile 6-4 wing guard with a bag of tricks in his pocket, throwing in a spin move or two to get some free space in the mid-range. Without the ball in his hands, he's usually hunting for space on the arc, where he can unleash an accurate shot, though he was only 1-of-8 from deep in this one (5-of-15 overall), making all six of his foul shots. But he's a quality play-maker, makes the extra pass when needed, and was defending multiple positions.
Honorable Mention: Hakim Byrd (Sr./Neumann-Goretti) Spencer Cochran (Sr./Malvern Prep), Jalen Duren (Soph./Roman Catholic), Josiah Freeman (Sr./Paul VI, Va.), Jordan Hall (Sr./Neumann-Goretti), Owen Kropp (Sr./Methacton), Dug McDaniel (Soph./Paul VI, Va.), Muneer Newton (Jr./Archbishop Wood), Marcus Randolph (Jr./Archbishop Wood), Jeremy Roach (Sr./Paul VI, Va.), Deuce Turner (Sr./Malvern Prep) Justice Williams (Soph./Roman Catholic), Jeff Woodward (Sr./Methacton), Cameron Young (Sr./Neumann-Goretti)