Daeshon Shepherd never saw the Wildwood Catholic player.
But he heard his own name.
“Somebody yelled and I turned at the last second,” Shepherd said. “It was just in time.”
Shepherd’s block sealed Archbishop Wood’s 54-52 victory over Wildwood Catholic on Monday night in the Dajuan Wagner Play-by-Play Classic at Cherry Hill East.
Shepherd, a 6-foot-7 junior, scored 13 points and junior guard Rahsool Diggins added 14 for Archbishop Wood (5-3), which was playing its first game since a pre-Christmas trip to Hawaii.
Senior swingman Taj Thweatt, a West Virginia recruit, generated 19 points with 13 rebounds for Wildwood Catholic (4-1).
Senior guard Jahlil White, a Temple recruit, added 16 points for the Crusaders.
The game was played before a capacity-plus crowd in DiBart Gym, which holds around 2,000 spectators. Folks stood three- and four-deep behind both baskets.
“Crazy,” Shepherd said of the atmosphere.
Wildwood Catholic coach Dave DeWeese said his team would benefit from the experience.
“This is great for our kids,” DeWeese said.
Wildwood Catholic took a 52-51 lead on White’s bucket with 1 minute, 45 seconds to play.
Archbishop Wood went ahead, 53-52, on Diggins’ two free throws at 0:33.
The Vikings added another free throw by Jaylen Stinson at 0:09 after Muneer Newton grabbed an offensive rebound after the second of two missed free throws.
“That’s a pet peeve of mine,” DeWeese said. “We had too many missed opportunities in the last minute.”
Down 54-52, Wildwood Catholic called timeout. The Crusaders ran a play that left David Zarfatti open in the lane in the final seconds.
But Shepherd recovered in time to get a hand on the shot, which fell harmlessly to the court as the buzzer sounded.
“We talk about little things,” Archbishop Wood coach John Mosco said. “[Shepherd] kept battling and got the block.”
Archbishop Wood led by 23-12 after one, thanks to five three-pointers. The Vikings found gaps in Wildwood Catholic’s zone and found the range from distance.
Marcus Randolph and Jaylen Stinson each hit a pair of three-pointers as the Vikings grabbed command.
Wildwood Catholic switched to a man-to-man defense in the second quarter and fought back into the game. The Crusaders held the Vikings without a point for six minutes, got strong work at the offensive end from White and Thweatt and cut the deficit to 29-25 at the break.
“I thought we got tired,” Mosco said. “But give them credit. They are a good team.”
Archbishop Wood 23 6 14 11 – 54
Wildwood Catholic 12 13 16 11 – 52
AW: Marcus Randolph 10, Daeshon Shepherd 13, Muneer Newton 3, Rahsool Diggins 14, Jaylen Stinson 9, Brennan Kersey 5.
WC: Jahlil White 16, DeSean Lopez 4, Jake Hopping 8, Taj Thweatt 19, Ben Church 2, Martin Angulev 3.