Pinkney’s blocks spark Archbishop Wood past Archbishop Carroll

PHILADELPHIA >> The image has become a regular and frequent occurrence in Archbishop Wood boys’ basketball games.

Some player from the opposing team gets into the lane, only to find the trunk of 6-foot-11 Seth Pinkney in their way. Already, their shot is being altered. That lasts only for a split second before one of Pinkney’s impossibly long arms reaches out and swats the ball to some forlorn corner of the court, its hopes and dreams of slipping through the rim dashed by the Vikings junior forward.

Seth Pinkney changes games and he doesn’t have to score to do it.

Sunday afternoon on the campus of Holy Family University, the towering senior recorded nine blocks as Wood topped Archbishop Carroll 76-68 in a high-level Philadelphia Catholic League contest. Collin Gillespie continued his brilliant senior season, scoring 28 points to pace Wood, but ever the point guard, he passed plenty of credit on to the shot-blocking skyscraper.

“It’s huge for us because it allows us as guards to get into people on the defensive end,” Gillespie said. “Knowing he’s behind us, it’s a relief because he can block every shot that’s going up.”

The game was supposed to be held at Wood’s gym, but after a section of wall collapsed on Wednesday, the contest was moved to Holy Family. Gillespie said it wasn’t too much of an adjustment, and added the Vikings are comfortable playing away from their own gym. The crowd, which nearly filled the bleachers, was pretty split, but Wood just won in a very hostile Archbishop Ryan gym on Friday.

While Gillespie or any of Wood’s other scorers can go off on a given night, Pinkney is really the guy that sets the tone for them. If he gets a couple blocks early, then he plays confident and the guards can step up the pressure. If it’s the other way around, and Pinkney is whistled for a couple early fouls, the defense may not be as sharp.

“Defense is the key, that’s how we win all of our games,” Pinkney, who also had seven points and two rebounds, said. “Me, getting the blocks, it just gets the team more hyped up and we can come out with the win.”

It was a back-and-forth game all evening, with the first half a battle between Gillespie and Andrew Funk for Wood and Justin Anderson and AJ Hoggard for Carroll. Anderson led the Patriots with 17 points while Hoggard, just a freshman, played a strong game with 15 points and five assists, not backing down from Wood.

Pinkney had six blocks at halftime, but Wood trailed 31-30 in part because of its eight turnovers before the break. The start of the third quarter was a different story, thanks to some words from coach John Mosco during the intermission.

“He told us to play with the same energy we had on Friday,” Gillespie said. “We were a little slow in the beginning of the game. He just told us to lock up on defense. We got any shot we wanted on offense and he lets us play through things, so we just had to set the tone defensively to start the half.”

Wood did that by running off a 7-0 run to start the third quarter and got an added bonus when Matt Cerruti and Tyree Pickron shook off quiet first half efforts to get going on offense. Cerruti scored five of those first seven and had all 11 of his points in the second half.

Pickron, the sharpshooting senior, scored 10 of his 16 after the break, but remained a factor in the first half with his rebounding. Much like the first half, the third quarter was up-and-down with both teams trading buckets and guys stepping up with a big play, only to have the opposition make one of its own.

Gillespie closed the third strong, finding Pickron for a 3 with 2:24 left, hitting a trey of his own with 1:57 left and then, after Anderson had a traditional three-point play, the guard hit two foul shots to keep Wood up 53-47 going to the final period. Gillespie had eight assists, four rebounds and a steal to go with his game-high scoring output.

While Carroll scored enough to keep pace with Wood, very few of the Patriots looks near the rim were clean when Pinkney was on the floor.

“The most growth has been in his maturity and love for the game,” Mosco said. “He’s really learning the game, how to score, catch the ball and do more than just be out there.”

The big man scored three baskets, two of them showcasing how far he’s come in the game. In the second quarter, Gillespie drove baseline and bulleted a low pass that Pinkney was able to gather up and finish. With 3:08 left in the fourth, he slipped a screen, caught a pass from Gillepsie and rolled in the ball for a big hoop that gave Wood a 66-60 lead.

“He couldn’t even do the Mikan Drill, he was just big and raw and he worked his tail off to where he was able to catch the ball and we would have confidence in him,” Mosco said. “Last year we didn’t have that confidence in him, but Collin has confidence in everybody and they get confidence from him, so he makes me look like a better coach.”

Gillespie said that he’s not afraid to throw any kind of pass to Pinkney, who can finish lobs and has been good and dunking put-back attempts this season. Pinkney saved a little something on the defensive end for the fourth quarter, too.

After Gillespie had put Wood up 72-68 with 31.7 left, Pinkney blocked Hoggard, then after four more Wood points, he iced the game by blocking Anderson’s drive with about 10 seconds left on the clock.

“Somebody in the crowd was telling me to get another block so I just went up and got it,” Pinkney said “It was just some more energy to give off for the team at the end.”

Archbishop Wood 76, Archbishop Carroll 68
Archbishop Carroll 10 21 16 21 – 68
Archbishop Wood 14 16 23 23 – 76
Archbishop Carroll (68): Khari Williams 2 3-3 8, Colin Daly 5 0-0 12, AJ Hoggard 6 1-2 15, Justin Anderson 6 4-5 17, Jesse McPhearson 2 2-2 6, Devin Ferraro 1 0-1 2, Mark Bradshaw 1 4-4 6, Keyon Butler 1 0-0 2, Jahmir Marable-Williams 0 0-0 0. Totals: 23 14-17 68.
Archbishop Wood (76): Collin Gillespie 9 6-7 28, Keith Otto 1 0-0 2, Tyree Pickron 6 0-0 16, Seth Pinkney 3 1-2 7, Matt Cerruti 4 2-2 11, Andrew Funk 4 3-3 12. Nonscoring: Karrington Wallace, Julius Phillips, Shawn Thompson. Totals: 27 12-14 76.
3-pointers: AC – Hoggard 2, Daly 2, Anderson, Williams; AW – Pickron 4, Gillespie 4, Cerruti,Funk.

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