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PIAA Class 6A: Knouse and Allen come off the bench to help Wood to semifinals

03/20/2021, 6:45pm EDT
By Stephen Miller

Mike Knouse drives to the basket

Mike Knouse (above, earlier this season) capitalized on extra playing time, scoring 10 points in Wood's quarterfinal win. (Photo: Josh Verlin/CoBL)

Stephen Miller (@Stephen_AMiller)

Archbishop Wood began Saturday’s PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal game missing one member of its star-filled starting lineup. By the middle of the third quarter, another high-profile starter was bound for the bench with his fourth foul.

The Vikings still had Marcus Randolph and Jaylen Stinson on the floor. Their leadership, combined with contributions from a pair of less-heralded teammates, pushed Wood into the final week of the PIAA basketball season.

Randolph provided the finishing kick for the Vikings, scoring 10 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, as they pulled away for a 70-56 win over William Allen at J. Milo Sewards Gymnasium. Stinson added 16 points, while juniors Mike Knouse and Tyson Allen capitalized on their extra playing time to combine for 17 points.

Their effort helped Wood overcome the absence of Daeshon Shepherd (COVID-19 contact tracing) and an off day from Connecticut commit Rahsool Diggins (three points). The win sends the Vikings to Tuesday’s 6A semifinal matchup at District 1 champion Lower Merion.

“Jaylen Stinson and Marcus Randolph grabbed the team and took control,” said Wood head coach John Mosco. “They told them, ‘We have to be able to go and stick together.’ That’s what we always preach — don’t get too high, don’t get too low, and we’re better than a one-man team.

“The guys coming off the bench got their chance to play, and they played well.”

Knouse (10 points) and Allen (seven points) did much of their damage after the midway point of the third quarter, when Diggins picked up his fourth foul contesting a putback attempt by William Allen’s Mel Copeland.

The two Wood juniors combined for 12 straight points from late in the third quarter into the start of the fourth, which helped Wood extend its lead from two points, when Diggins went to the bench, to 10, by the time he returned with 4:05 to play.

While Diggins never got on track offensively — his only field goal came with 2:33 to go — Randolph shone. Once the Vikings opened a double-digit lead, it forced the Canaries out of their zone defense and into man-to-man. That allowed Wood to spread the floor and open driving lanes aplenty for Randolph, a smooth lefty who is committed to Richmond.

Randolph scored all 10 of his fourth-quarter points on layups and foul shots. After he completed a three-point play late in the fourth quarter, Mosco pulled his starters.

“That changed things for us big-time today without having [Shepherd], but we had players step up today,” Randolph said. “Everybody was focused. At Wood, we get players that play hard and we go hard at practice. So, everybody should be ready when their name is called.”

Whether Shepherd will be available for Tuesday’s state semifinal against Lower Merion is unknown. The Vikings just hope to have the chance to complete a journey they couldn’t a season ago.

Wood qualified for the state quarterfinals last season, but had its championship bid end when the coronavirus pandemic cancelled the end of the PIAA playoffs. The previous season, the Vikings lost to Moon in the PIAA 5A finals.

“We have two games where we’ve got to stay together,” Mosco said. “We’ve got to stay healthy and take care of business. But it’s one game at a time starting with Tuesday night.”

“We’ve got to stay focused and stay hungry,” Randolph said. “With our season going as good as it is right now, it’s easy to be relaxed. It’s easy to come out and let things slip up. But we’ve got to stay focused and look at the bigger picture, and go at our main goal.”

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