Archbishop Wood looking to reach next level, rolls past Bishop McDevitt

CHELTENHAM >> Prior to Wednesday night’s game at Bishop McDevitt, the Archbishop Wood girls basketball team hadn’t played since Dec. 22.

It showed in the first half, as the Vikings were missing a lot of open shots, both from outside the arc and at the rim. When they came back out for the second half, they scored 21 points in the third quarter, hitting another level as they ran away with a 58-35 win.

The win improved Wood to 4-4, and was emblematic of where the defending Philadelphia Catholic League, District 12 and PIAA champions are. There’s another level of play they can hit and the Vikings know it.

“We’re a lot different than last year, not in the way we play but more the players,” senior co-captain Shannon May said. “I think we’re doing pretty well so far. We had some tough games, so I’m not worried about the losses. I think we’re ready, we still have the same goals as last year.”

Wood, now playing in the new Class 5A after winning the 3A title last year, played its usual daunting schedule, playing just one game in the state of Pennsylvania in December. The Vikings hadn’t even played at home as of Jan. 4. Their first game in their gym was set for Friday Jan. 6 against Little Flower.

The Vikings had to replace three starters from last year’s team. Bailey Greenberg and Claire Bassetti graduated, with Greenberg now starting at Drexel and Kate Connolly transferred, now at Souderton. That left senior Cassie Sebold and junior Katie May, Shannon’s sister, as the two returners.

So far, the same five of Shannon May, Katie May, Sebold, Meg Neher and Bridget Arcidiacono have started every game, but coach Mike McDonald added that it’s not set in stone yet.

“It’s hard adjusting because we had Bailey last year, who basically scored all of our points,” Sebold said. “We’re adjusting to having different people score and having different people step up. Right now, I think we’re doing a pretty good job with it, but it needs to keep getting better as the season goes on.”

May said the starting unit is building some continuity but noted that the reserves are starting to find their confidence and are pushing for bigger roles. Senior Karly Brown came off the bench against McDevitt to lead the team with 10 points but the rest of the group is mostly underclassmen.

“Erin Morgan had a decent role for us out in Phoenix and she stepped up for us tonight defensively,” McDonald said. “Our sophomores, Mia Andrews and Ryleigh Parsons are starting to pick up on what we’re doing and they’re just two aggressive players who are all about basketball. We’re lucky to see some of these kids come in here.”

Archbishop Wood’s Cassie Sebold works to dribble past Bishop McDevitt’’s Nyah Johnson during their game on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

Shannon May, Sebold, Neher and Brown are the team’s captains and are still finding their way as the team’s leaders. It was like that last year as Greenberg and Bassetti grew into the role near the end of January and sparked a remarkable 21-game winning streak to close out the season.

“We’re still getting used to it,” May said. “It’s a process, but we’re getting used to it. Last year it took a little while to get into their leading roles so I think we can step up like them and be more vocal.”

“We’re trying to make sure everyone is doing the right thing and veering from what got us as far as we got last year,” Sebold said.

Wood also has a different look on the court. Last year’s team had the 6-foot-1 Connolly, 5-foot-11 Greenberg and 5-foot-10 Katie May forming an imposing frontcourt. This season, the Vikings are a more guard-heavy team, starting three guards and at times going with a five-guard offense.

Even the two starters at forward in May and Arcidiacono can play like guards, with May poking a ball away from a McDevitt player, dribbling the length of the floor and dropping a precision bounce pass to Brown for a layup in Wednesday’s second quarter.

“Our defense is different because we don’t have the length and the height,” May said. “But we have more speed. Anyone can play any spot in our offense, it’s not like a forward is strictly inside.”

“Us being able to pressure everyone else’s guards, it’s hard to get it in the post,” Sebold said. “If they do, we’ve always been able to stay straight up (to contest shots) and it’s something we all do. We do it so much in practice that it’s like second nature.”

Playing so many games out of state has its benefits. Not only do the Vikings get to play some powerhouse opponents, it’s just basketball and each other. On-court chemistry is a vital part of the game and Wood has had a chance to build plenty of it through about six weeks of the season.

“We try to switch up the roommates so we all have a chance to bond with the entire team,” May said.

“We all get along really well,” Sebold said. “At this point last year, we weren’t as close as a team but it’s been helping us this year because we’re all so close.”

The Vikings’ schedule to this point lists some serious opposing firepower. Wood faced nationally-ranked Riverdale Baptist (Md.) and Long Island Lutheran (N.Y.) in DC, then Millenium (Ariz.), Christ the King (N.Y.), Mater Dei (Calif.) and Our Lady of Good Counsel (Md.) in the Tournament of Champions out in Arizona.

It also doesn’t get easier, with a date against Episcopal Academy on Sunday, Ursuline Academy out of Delaware the next Sunday, Germantown Academy and St. John Vianney (N.J.) on back-to-back days the last weekend of the month and of course, PCL dates with Cardinal O’Hara and Neumann-Goretti.

“We just have to keep reviewing what we’re doing, making sure it’s crisp, making sure we’re focused and everybody is fresh,” McDonald said. “With the leadership, we just want them to build on those roles and get them to bring the younger kids along and have them ready to play as well.”

Archbishop Wood 58, Bishop McDevitt 35
Archbishop Wood 9 12 21 16 – 58
Bishop McDevitt 2 9 10 14 – 35
Archbishop Wood (58): Shannon May 3 0-0 8, Cassie Sebold 1 2-2 4, Bridget Arcidiacono 2 1-2 6, Katie May 4 1-2 9, Karly Brown 4 0-0 10, Lindsey Tretter 4 0-0 9, Erin Morgan 2 0-0 6, Ryleigh Parsons 2 2-2 6. Nonscoring: Neher, Greenberg, Kelly, Dougherty, Andrews, Halloran, Fasti. Totals: 22 6-8 58
Bishop McDevitt (35): Briana Edwards 5 1-2 14, Nyah Johnson 1 2-3 4, Dana Mizelle 5 0-1 11, Elan Wali 1 4-6 6, Olisha Fischer 0 0-2 0. Nonscoring: Samantha DiCicco, Jess Francias. Totals: 12 7-14 35
Three-pointers: AW – S May 2, Arcidiacono, Brown 2, Tretter, Morgan 2; BM – Edwards 3, Mizelle.

Top Photo: Archbishop Wood’’s Karly Brown shoots over a Bishop McDevitt defender during their game on Wednesday,  Jan. 4, 2017. (Gene Walsh/Digital First Media)

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