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Archbishop Wood answers Bonner & Prendergast rally to stay unbeaten in PCL

Rahsool Diggins (3) of Archbishop Wood shoots against Moon in the PIAA Class 5A boys championship game action at the Giant Center in Hershey on Friday, March 22, 2019. (Mark Palczewski/For MediaNews Group)

WARMINSTER >> The opening possession of the third quarter brought a very different Bonner & Prendergast team Monday night.

After giving up a lot of open shots and a lot of points to Archbishop Wood in the first half and struggling to contain the host Vikings’ transition game, the Friars got aggressive in the second half. The result was a massive swing that led to the Friars taking a lead early in the final frame.

Then Wood got a couple clutch baskets, settled down and restored order with a 83-75 win to remain unbeaten in the Philadelphia Catholic League.

“We just settled down and controlled the game,” Wood guard Marcus Randolph said. “We made better decisions under pressure. They threw a half-pressure at us, running and trapping and basically made the game speed up and we were just making bad decisions.”

Wood (10-3, 6-0 PCL) has been putting up points all season and the Vikings came out strong again on Monday to start a slate of four PCL contests this week. Muneer Newton had eight points in the opening frame as the Vikings took a 25-16 lead and withstood a 13-point opening barrage by Friars (10-3, 4-2 PCL) guard Donovan Rodriguez.

Led by junior point guard Rahsool Diggins, Wood looked to push off every rebound and use all five players on the floor to find shots. After a quiet first quarter, Diggins erupted in the second for 11 points and in one span, bracketed a pair of 3-point shots around a dish to Robert Jackson for a 33-19 lead.

“We played together,” Diggins said. “We weren’t being selfish, we played defense and in the second half we didn’t play as much defense as we should have.”

Diggins carried the momentum over to the early stretch of the third, even as Bonner-Prendie’s aggressive traps started to cause the Vikings some trouble. A trey off a pass from Daeshon Shepherd put Wood up 54-29 with 6:24 left in the quarter but things would soon go a different direction.

Malik Edwards buried a three in response, kicking off a 10-0 Friars run over the next two minutes. Edwards, a junior, was his teams’ offensive catalyst in the quarter with 13 points shooting 4-of-5 and a perfect 3-of-3 from deep.

Tyrese Watson, who scored two buckets and assisted three others in the quarter, kicked off a 12-0 run by Bonner-Prendie with 2:28 left in the quarter that spanned to its end. The Friars’ defense spurred it on, with Rodriguez flinging two long passes to Connor Eagan to keep it going.

“They caught us with a run-and-jump, it wasn’t pressure but more of a trap,” Diggins said. “We kind of panicked, turned the ball over and they got out and got layups and went on a run.”

Rodriguez capped the comeback with a corner three off a feed from Watson with 6:23 to play, knotting the score 63-63 before Watson gave the Friars their first lead since 5-4 with 5:52 left in the game.

A couple possessions later, trailing 67-65, Jaylen Stinson made the two biggest shots of the game. Wood’s junior guard knocked down the go-ahead three off a feed from Randolph, then after a Friars shot rimmed out on the other end, Randolph again found Stinson who worked into the lane and put up a runner with 4:05 left to stake Wood to a 70-67 advantage.

The Vikings called a timeout after Stinson’s second hoop to try and keep the momentum on their side.

“Maturity kicked in,” Diggins said. “We called a timeout, everybody was telling each other to calm down and we were going to be alright.”

“It was a momentum change,” Randolph said. “Those two baskets settled everybody down and led to us making better decisions.”

Wood started to handle Bonner & Prendergast’s traps better as well. Diggins said the Vikings adjusted by sending someone to the middle of the floor to receive passes out of the traps instead of trying to force them into the corners.

It was also a matter of being stronger on the ball, as Randolph pointed out he and his teammates were going to get passes instead of waiting for the ball to get thrown their way.

A little luck also didn’t hurt as Bonner-Prendie missed the front end of two one-and-one situations after Wood took the lead before Diggins canned a pair of free throws after he was fouled rebounding his own miss with 2:53 remaining.

“We can learn from it,” Diggins said. “The same situation happened against Paul VI, but they won that game. You have to look at it like that, we can look at it on film and get better at it.”

Wood is back home Wednesday against Lansdale Catholic, visits Devon Prep on Friday and hosts Roman Catholic in a Sunday afternoon start that will also likely carry heavy PCL table implications.

Randolph is in his first season at Wood and games like Monday are why he’s enjoying the challenges of the PCL.

“I love coming out every night and competing, it’s making me better,” Randolph said. “Colleges like that competition, they like games like this to see who’s battling out there at the end and that’s what the Catholic League is forcing me to do.

“Momentum means a lot in basketball, we have the momentum in our heads now. This was a statement win, it gives us more confidence, we knew (Bonner) just beat Roman so it gives us confidence going into the games coming up.”

ARCHBISHOP WOOD 25 21 13 24 – 83
BONNER & PRENDERGAST 16 11 27 21 – 75
Archbishop Wood: Rahsool Diggins 8 5-7 26, Marcus Randolph 5 4-5 16, Jaylen Stinson 4 3-4 12, Muneer Newton 4 2-2 10, Daeshon Shepherd 4 7-12 15, Robert Jackson 2 0-0 4. Totals: 27 21-30 83.
Bonner & Prendergast: Oscar Uduma 4 0-0 9, Malik Edwards 5 4-4 18, Donovan Rodriguez 5 6-6 21, Tyrese Watson 4 7-8 15, Connor Eagan 3 1-2 7, James Welde 1 0-0 2, Cobe Ruley 1 1-3 2. Totals: 23 19-23 75.
3-pointers: AW – Diggins 5, Randolph 2, Stinson; BP – Rodriguez 5, Edwards 4, Uduma.



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