It was an all-junior performance; too bad there wasn’t an encore.
In an effervescent showdown between two of the Catholic League boys’ top basketball teams Jan. 8, visiting Archbishop Wood edged Cardinal O’Hara, 67-63, shocking the previously undefeated Lions and their roaring fans.
Wood’s all-junior starting lineup featured Jaylen Stinson (16 points), Daeshon Shepherd (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Muneer Newton (11 points, 13 rebounds). That trio barely outmaneuvered 19-point contributions by O’Hara juniors Adrian Irving and Anthony Purnell.
“We came into the game hoping we could prove that we are the best team in the league,” said Stinson. “I think we proved that.”
Stinson scored Wood’s final six points, including two free throws with under five seconds remaining that sealed the victory for a Vikings team that led by 13 points midway through the third quarter before O’Hara (11-1 overall, 4-1 league), helped by senior Tre Dinkins’ 13 points, clawed to within 65-63 with seven seconds left.
While winning their sixth straight, the Vikings (8-3, 4-0) remained one of the Catholic League teams without a league defeat. Archbishop Carroll and Bonner-Prendergast are also 4-0; Neumann-Goretti is 3-0.
“It’s the Catholic League,” said Stinson. “There are a lot of really good teams. You have to be prepared every game.”
In Catholic League girls’ basketball, Neumann-Goretti and Archbishop Wood lead the Red Division with a 3-0 record, just ahead of Cardinal O’Hara at 3-1.
In the Blue Division, St. Hubert’s is 3-0 and Lansdale Catholic 2-0. The two teams meet 7 p.m. tonight, Jan. 10, at Hubert’s.
This is the first time the girls have competed in a Red/Blue Division. It was created to balance the competition. Each team plays its division opponents twice, and in the postseason, the seven teams in the Red join the top three finishers from the Blue.
The top six teams receive byes; the seventh-seed hosts the 10th, and the eighth hosts the ninth, followed by the quarterfinals at the home of the higher seeds.
So far, there have been no loud complaints.
“The new league creates a lot of great competition,” said Archbishop Carroll senior All-Catholic Erin Sweeney. “Every game you have to show up and play your hardest, because every game is going to be difficult.”
Contact John Knebels at Jknebels@gmail.com or on Twitter @johnknebels.
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