Archbishop Ryan junior guard Jalen Snead (above) and Archbishop Ryan beat West Catholic on Monday night. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Josh Verlin (@jmverlin)
When Jalen Snead arrived at Archbishop Ryan as a freshman in the fall of 2018, he quickly took stock of the roster around him. And just about as quickly came to a realization.
“I was like dang, everybody else on this team can score,” he said, “so I’m going to do whatever else I can do to get on the court: rebound, play defense, pass the ball.”
Two years later, that same mindset has made Snead indispensable to Ryan head coach Joe Zeglinski. The junior guard’s now in his second year as a starter for the Catholic League contender, and he definitely doesn’t need to take many shots to have a massive impact.
That was clear Monday night at West Catholic, as Snead’s five points helped out — but not as much as the rest of his production — as Ryan survived a 59-55 overtime contest.
A 6-foot-1, 175-pound guard from the Oxford Circle section of Northeast Philadelphia, Snead came up with nine rebounds and seven assists in the win against West Catholic, an outing that’s becoming standard even in games that don’t need an extra four minutes.
“I was always a guy that passed first,” he said. “[In] middle school, I shot the ball more than I do now...I’m trying to score a little bit this year, last year I wasn’t even looking for my shot.”
With leading scorer and Division I recruit Aaron Lemon-Warren sidelined for the second game in a row due to what his coach termed a “school issue” (he’s expected back for their next game), Snead’s presence was especially important against a young-but-talented West Catholic squad.
“He’s huge for us to have on the court, and you can’t take him out because he’s so valuable on both sides of the ball,” said Zeglinski, a 2006 Ryan alum and the program’s sixth-year head coach. “His stat line’s always packed on rebounds, steals, and then now points are coming as well. He’s got a bright future and we’re lucky to have him.”
Snead’s value was evident last year, like when he put together a seven-point, 11-rebound, three-assist, four-steal, six-block stat line in the opening round of the PIAA Class 5A Tournament. Ryan won its second-round state tournament matchup as well, and was preparing for a quarterfinal game against Muhlenberg when COVID shut the season down.
Christian Tomasco (12) led all scorers with 22 points, plus 11 rebounds. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)
Zeglinski called Snead a “luxury” several times in the span of a few minutes. That’s in part due to Snead’s versatility, and in part due to the fact that Ryan already has a terrific point guard: senior Dominic Vasquez, who had 13 points and a trio of assists in the win. Though Vasquez tends to be the one bringing the ball up against press defenses and getting Ryan into its sets, the ball winds up in Snead’s hands just about as often.
Christian Tomasco poured in 10 of his game-high 22 points in the extra session to help Ryan (3-1) hold off a Burrs bunch that had already overcome a 13-point halftime deficit. But Snead played his part, feeding the 6-foot-9 big man for a 3-point play that opened the scoring in overtime; quite a few of Tomasco's other buckets came off the hands of Snead.
“He’s a great slasher, cutter, he can get into the paint whenever he wants, and when he does that, he sucks in the defense for quickly little dump-offs like what happened multiple times tonight,” Tomaso said. “I really enjoy playing with him.”
With three of five starters returning, Ryan’s one of the more experienced teams in the Catholic League along with Archbishop Wood and Neumann-Goretti. And one of their newcomers has plenty of experience.
Tomasco, who spent the last two years at Bishop Eustace, is back in the Catholic League after spending his freshman year at St. Joe’s Prep. Like most freshmen under former head coach Speedy Morris, Tomasco didn’t see the court in varsity contests, but is now a crucial piece for a team with its eyes on a potential PCL title.
“I love it, I love the competition, I love being able to do what I need to do on the court, whether that’s being an inside presence or shoot the ball or hit free-throws like I did today,” he said. “They welcomed me with open arms and embraced what I was bringing to the team...it’s really a great thing that we have going on.”
Ryan gets back to action on Wednesday at home against Cardinal O’Hara. West Catholic (1-3) hosts La Salle (5-2) on Thursday.
Archbishop Ryan: 14 | 11 | 8 | 13 | 13 || 59
West Catholic: 4 | 8 | 22 | 12 | 9 || 55
Archbishop Ryan: 20-46 FG (1-10 3PT), 18-28 FT
West Catholic: 22-59 FG (3-27 3PT), 6-15 FT
Archbishop Ryan: Tomasco 22, Vasquez 13, Boyd 6, Snead 5, Paris 5, Merry 4, Wise 2, Williams 2
West Catholic: Stanford 12, Clark 11, Chamberlain 10, Kaseem Watson 6, Finkley 5, Branker 4, Griffin 3, Kareem Watson 2