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PIAA 6A: Bethea, Howard power Archbishop Wood past Coatesville

03/19/2023, 1:00am EDT
By Owen McCue

Owen McCue (@Owen_McCue)

NORRISTOWN — Archbishop Wood junior Jalil Bethea got hit with a technical foul in the first quarter of a chippy and chirpy PIAA Class 6A quarterfinal against Coatesville on Saturday afternoon at Norristown.

He took a quick seat on the bench where Wood coach John Mosco explained that’s exactly what the Raiders were trying to do.

“They’re trying to knock him off his game, and I tried to tell him, ‘You gotta be smarter than that,’” Mosco said.

Bethea made sure to stay out of the few skirmishes that popped up the rest of the contest, as his game did the talking for him. He piled up 31 points, five assists and 10 rebounds as Wood exploded in the second half for a 78-64 quarterfinal win that set up a rematch of last season’s state championship with Roman Catholic in the semifinals Tuesday.

Archbishop Wood junior Jalil Bethea scored 31 points in Saturday's win over Coatesville. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

Any message he needed to send was done with an emphatic fastbreak dunk to cap his day.

“I just took all my anger out on that rim,” said Bethea, who had coaches from Villanova and Syracuse waiting to talk with him after the game in which he recorded 1,000 career points.

“We were just told at halftime to stay in the middle, don’t go too high or too low,” he added. “We did what the coaches talked about and just stayed calm and stayed together.”

Bethea is one of just two veterans on this Wood team from a group that advanced to the state title game a season ago. Senior forward Carson Howard, an East Stroudsburg commit, is the other. Those two led the way for a young Vikings group on Saturday with Howard adding in 21 points himself.

The duo combined for 15 of Wood’s 21 points in the third quarter, turning a 33-31 halftime advantage into a 67-51 lead heading into the fourth. Bethea added 11 more in the fourth and Howard chipped in six more as the lead grew as large as 22.

“I think it’s just being the guy that keeps everybody together,” Howard said of his role. “Me as a senior, we have a bunch of young guys starting. It’s just me and Gus as senior starters this year. It’s a big role for me to keep everybody together …. kind of just being the rock for everybody to come around and stay together.”

Bethea found Howard for a couple of and-ones on the drive, including a no-look assist, as Wood put Coatesville away in the second half.

“Me and Carson, we’ve just grown a bond over the past two years that he’s been at the school,” Bethea said. “We just put that together and we put that into the game, and that’s how we got so much chemistry on the court.”

Coatesville's Larry Brown, left, goes up for a shot on Milan Dean. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

Led by senior Jeremiah Marshall and junior Zuri Harris, who both finished with 18 points apiece, Coatesville led 16-15 after the first quarter and 19-15 early in the second period. Junior Marquis Peoples Jr. added another 14, 12 of them coming in the fourth, but Bethea and Wood proved too much to keep up with in the second half.

The Raiders never recovered from a 7-1 stretch powered by Bethea and Howard to end the third quarter.

“It’s a 32-minute game, we played for 16, maybe 24, but they got talent,” Coatesville coach John Allen said. “That’s just what it comes down to.

“It’s hard to stop (Bethea) for four quarters.”

Allen walked out the locker room with a smile on his face, barely able to move a few feet without being stopped for a, ‘Thank you,’ or a ‘Congratulations.’ In his first season as head coach at his alma mater, Allen helped his team rally from a second-round District 1 loss for five straight wins to get to the state quarters for the first time since 2019.

He and his team had another strong collection of supporters on Saturday, which added to the game’s intensity and highlighted how special the Coatesville basketball community can be.

Archbishop Wood senior Carson Howard scored 21 points in Saturday's win. (Photo: Mark Jordan/CoBL)

“It was so much fun,” Allen said. “I don’t feel any type of way. … This was awesome. The kids are hurting, but we’re here and I’m proud of them.”

Wood dispatched its first three state opponents with relative ease to set up an anticipated rematch with Catholic League rival Roman. 

Howard’s tenure at Wood started with a regular-season win over Roman last season before losing to the Cahiliites in the state title game. The Vikings have lost three in a row after dropping a regular season matchup and a PCL semifinal to Roman already this season.

“We need to get them back,” Howard said. “We lost to them twice this year, once in the state championship last year. It’s well overdue to get them back.”

By Quarter

Coatesville 16 | 15 | 10 | 23 | 64

Archbishop Wood 15 | 18 | 24 | 21 || 78


Coatesville: Zuri Harris 18, Jeremiah Marshall 18, Marquis Peoples Jr. 14, Amon Fowlkes 5, Dior Kennedy 3, Christian Proctor 2, Takiyah Lynch 2.

Archbishop Wood: Jalil Bethea 31, Carson Howard 21, Gus Salem 8, Deuce Maxey 8, Mike Green 5, Milan Dean 3, Josh Reed 2.

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