SPRINGFIELD >> Archbishop Wood girls basketball coach Mike McDonald looked up at the scoreboard late in the first quarter.
At that point, his team was up seven on a resilient and energetic West Catholic squad. The next time McDonald looked at the scoreboard, his team had just ripped off a 17-0 run and turned an arm’s length lead into a comfortable one.
The top-seeded Vikings used energy and good off-ball movement to shake off a nine-day span between games as they topped the Burrs 70-45 in the Philadelphia Catholic League quarterfinals at La Salle College High School, Thursday night.
“A lot of these kids were waiting for playoff time to get here,” McDonald said. “Now that it’s here, there’s definitely a boost and especially from the seniors, they’re excited to get to this time of year because it’s what they really play for.”
Four of Wood’s five starters scored in double-figures, led by 17 points from senior guard Shannon May. Juniors Katie May and Bridget Arcidiacono, along with senior Cassie Sebold, each posted 11 points while senior guard Karly Brown added nine points and six rebounds off the Wood bench.
The Vikings (17-6) hadn’t played since defeating St. Hubert on Feb. 7 and while they’d been practicing all that time, things are different when there’s a team wearing a different uniform on the other side of the court. West has been playing with a lot of confidence this year and brings a relentless energy, especially on the glass.
Wood weathered the early surge by the Burrs (13-10), relying on Arcidiacono and Shannon May for their first 13 points. A bucket by reserve Erin Morgan put Wood ahead 15-5 with 2:10 left in the opening frame before a three-point play by West’s Morgan Kennedy made it 15-8.
“We always play hard at practice, but we have to treat practice very seriously,” Shannon May said. “Practices help and mean a lot, but it’s not the same. You don’t practice as intense as you would play in a game.”
— Andrew Robinson (@ADRobinson3) February 17, 2017
From there, Wood went off. Brown converted a traditional three-point play before Katie May hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to start the Vikings’ big run. The Mays, Brown and Arcidiacono then combined for the first 11 points of the second quarter with a short Brown jumper putting the Vikings ahead 32-8 with 4:47 left in the first half.
Arcidiacono was a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor on Thursday, a beneficiary of the Vikings’ good off-ball cuts and screens that set up a lot of easy baskets throughout the night. The junior also had five rebounds, two assists, a steal and block in a very well-rounded game.
“It was pretty much all my teammates getting me open,” Arcidiacono said. “I wasn’t open without them getting me open or finding me with a good backdoor pass or making a good cut to help get me open. It was all them who did the work and I just did the easy part of putting it in the basket.”
Wood’s guards across the board had a strong game. Sebold, who scored all 11 of her points after the break, had four assists and two steals while May had three steals and senior Meg Neher, the fifth starter, had four rebounds, two steals and forced a number of jump balls with West’s physical forwards under the basket.
West Catholic scored six of the next nine but Wood took the 38-16 lead into the break. The Burrs didn’t relent in the second half and nearly played the Vikings even in a 15-13 third quarter but the deficit was going to be too much to overcome.
A Sebold hoop with 28.2 left in the third ignited an 8-0 run into the fourth with the Chestnut Hill recruit scoring six of the eight points. Brown put away a couple baskets midway through the frame before the Vikings let the deep reserves finish off the win.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on running the offense and getting a good shot instead of just any shot,” May said. “We work as a team and I think that’s the best aspect of our team. It doesn’t matter who’s scoring the points in a given game, there can be a different high-scorer in every game. Working the ball, moving a lot, it was emphasized, but it has been all year.”
Wood will have to combat another layoff as it won’t play again until next Thursday in the PCL semis. The Vikings will face No. 4 seed Archbishop Carroll, a winner over Archbishop Ryan, at Philadelphia University for the right to play at the Palestra. Carroll and Wood are set to tip at 8 p.m., following the other semifinal between No. 2 Neumann-Goretti and No. 3 Cardinal O’Hara at 6:30 p.m.
“We were excited to finally get a game again,” Arcidiacono said. “Going undefeated in the Catholic League, we know the other teams are going to be out to get us and wanting to beat us because we’re undefeated. We have to come out ready to play, no matter who it’s against.”
“You have to be excited so you play well, but you also have to be calm,” May said. “As great as it was winning the (PCL) in the regular season, we have bigger things we want to do. We want to win the Catholic League and states and to do that, we have to keep winning.”
Archbishop Wood 70, West Catholic 45
West Catholic 8 8 13 16 – 45
Archbishop Wood 21 17 15 17 – 70
West Catholic: Kennedy 4 3-6 11, Robinson 7 4-8 21, Durrett 2 0-0 5, Singletary 3 1-5 7, Epps 0 1-2 1. Totals: 16 9-19 45.
Archbishop Wood: Shannon May 7 2-2 17, Cassie Sebold 5 1-1 11, Bridget Arcidiacono 5 1-1 11, Katie May 4 1-4 11, Karly Brown 4 1-1 9, Erin Morgan 1 2-3 4, Ryleigh Parsons 1 2-2 4, Liz Fasti 1 0-0 3, Jenna Culp 0 0-1 0. Nonscoring: Neher, Kelly, Tretter, Halloran, Andrews, Dougherty. Totals: 28 10-15 70.
3-pointers: WC- Robinson 3, Durrett; AW – K May 2, S May, Fasti.
Top Photo: Archbishop Wood’s Karly Brown dribbles the ball past West Catholic’s Jaelyn Durrett during their Philadelphia Catholic League quarterfinal on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. (Bob Raines/Digital First Media)