BENSALEM >> Archbishop Wood was in the driver’s seat all game during its 65-43 Philadelphia Catholic League quarterfinal win over Bonner-Prendergast Friday night at Bensalem High School.
But it wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the top-seeded Vikings pulled away to a comfortable win.
It started with center Seth Pinkney. The 6-foot-11 junior started the fourth with a bang. He scored Wood’s first six points — all on vicious dunks — to maintain a 10-point advantage.
“It swings the momentum,” Pinkney said. “It gets the crowd excited, it gets the bench excited and it gets me excited — just keep going for more. It gets the coaches excited too. It keeps pushing me.”
The No. 8 seeded Friars cut the deficit to eight points a few times in the final quarter, but their chances went out the window when junior Ajiri Johnson fouled out with 5:29 left in the game.
Wood senior Collin Gillespie scored 11 points in the fourth on driving layups and 5-for-5 free-throw shooting to help build the lead up to 25 before winning by 22, 65-43.
“We were able to get the floor spread and Collin was able to get by his guy and he’s so unselfish like the rest of our team,” Wood coach John Mosco said of pulling away in the fourth.
Johnson was in foul trouble all game. He picked up his third personal with 3:49 left in the first half with Bonner trailing, 20-17. The Friars got within two a couple possessions later, 22-20, but the Vikings finished the half on a 9-0 run to head into the locker room with an 11-point lead, 31-20.
“Once (Johnson) got in foul trouble — he got three early in the second quarter — it’s hard for us,” Bonner coach Jack Concannon said. “We struggle to score as it is. (Wood is) just too big and strong without him in the game. It was definitely an up-hill battle. Then he got his fourth early in the third quarter. It’s a struggle for us when he’s not on the court — no doubt.”
The Friars trailed by eight for most of the second half with chances to get closer in the fourth quarter, but without their leading scorer on the floor they were no match for the best team in the PCL’s regular season.
“I thought we competed,” Concannon said. “That’s what I told the kids — it’s all about the fight to me. What the scoreboard says it what it says. We played hard and I think we had it to eight in the fourth quarter with an open three to cut it to five. When you play a team like that you have to match them almost shot for shot — it’s hard to do. They’re so explosive.”
Gillespie — a Villanova commit — scored a game-high 21 points for Wood and Pinkney joined him in double figures with 10.
Johnson led Bonner with 16 points and senior Christian Lane added 10.
It was a close game until Wood’s 9-0 run to end the first half.
The Vikings led, 12-9, after the first quarter. All their scoring came from three-point land with Gillespie hitting two and juniors Tyree Pickron and Andrew Funk each hitting one. Bonner’s Johnson had seven in the first.
Wood opened the second on an 8-1 run to lead, 20-10, but the Friars responded with seven straight and a 10-2 run to get within two, 22-20.
The win sends Wood to the Catholic League final four at the Palestra.
The Vikings will face No. 4 seed Archbishop Ryan Wednesday night at 8 p.m. When the teams played earlier this season, Wood won, 63-34, at Ryan.
“The last four teams there is nothing easy,” Mosco said. “I’ve been in the league for over 20 years. If you get to the Palestra and a game’s easy, there is something wrong. In this league, top-to-bottom, there are no easy nights.”
The loss brings Bonner’s season to an end.
“I thought we had a successful season,” Concannon said. “If you look at the teams we lost to — we lost to some really high-level teams. Some of the teams we beat in the non-league and the league — we beat some high-level teams. All-in-all I thought it was a successful year. I’m happy for the kids. A great group of kids, a lot of fun to be around. Seven seniors — I’m going to miss them.”
Archbishop Wood 65, Bonner-Prendergast 43
Bonner-Prendergast 9 11 8 15 — 43
Archbishop Wood 12 19 7 27 — 65
Bonner: Lane 4 0-0 10, Banks 1 0-0 3, Haynes 3 2-3 8, Higgins 1 0-0 2, Johnson 7 2-6 16, S Perretta 0 0-0 0, Gans 1 2-2 4, M Perretta 0 0-0 0. Total 17 6-11 43.
Wood: Thompson 0 0-0 0, Gillespie 7 5-5 21, Harrison 0 3-4 3, Otto 1 2-2 5, Pickron 3 0-0 8, Funk 2 0-0 5, McNamee 0 0-0 0, Garland 0 0-0 0, Pinkney 4 2-3 10, Cerruti 1 2-2 4, Wallace 2 3-6 7, Phillips 1 0-0 2. Total 21 17-22 65.
Three-point goals: B: Lane 2, Banks. W: Gillespie 2, Otto, Pickron 2, Funk.