Jaylen Stinson had been in this same situation many times in the past.
In his mind, anyway.
“Working out by yourself you do those moments when you count down or you say, ‘I’ve got to make these to win the game,’” said Stinson, Archbishop Wood’s unflappable junior guard.
Stinson scored his team’s final six points, making four straight free throws in the final 30 seconds, as Archbishop Wood beat previously undefeated Cardinal O’Hara, 67-63, in a Philadelphia Catholic League pulse-pounder on Wednesday night.
Junior guard Rahsool Diggins scored 14 points with seven assists and junior forwards Daeshon Shepherd (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Muneer Newton (11 points, 13 rebounds) each generated a double-double for Archbishop Wood (8-3 overall, 4-0 in the PCL), which won its sixth in a row.
“Typical Catholic League game on the road,” Archbishop Wood coach John Mosco said after the Vikings’ victory before a large and loud crowd in the Lions’ gym.
Junior guards Anthony Purnell and Adrian Irving each scored 19 for Cardinal O’Hara (11-1, 4-1). Down by 13 early in the third quarter, the Lions roared back and cut the deficit to 65-63 on Purnell’s three-pointer at the 0:05 mark.
“We started a little slow and you have to play 32 minutes to win a game like this,” Cardinal O’Hara coach Ryan Nemetz said.
Archbishop Wood, the No. 5 team in the Inquirer Top 10, controlled the paint, with Newton and Shepherd dominating the glass at both ends.
“They must have outrebounded us by 15,” Nemetz said. “That’s what got us. They wore us down.”
Shepherd and Muneer both scored four in a taut fourth quarter. Shepherd threw down a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Diggins to make it 57-53, and Newton spun in traffic and dropped in a layup for a 61-54 lead with 2 minutes, 15 seconds left.
“They really cleaned up up the glass,” Mosco said of Shepherd and Newton.
Mosco was proud of the way his all-junior starting lineup responded to the pressure.
“We played well in second half, kept our composure, shared the ball and went to the foul line and made our foul shots,” Mosco said.
Asked what statement the visitors made by coming into Cardinal O’Hara’s gym and knocking the Lions from the ranks of the unbeaten, Stinson said, “We’re the best team in the league.”
Cardinal O’Hara made nine three-pointers, forcing Archbishop Wood’s defense to extend. That created room for strong drives by Purnell, Irving and senior Tre Dinkins, who scored 13 points and brought the Lions’ student section to its feet with a follow slam.
“They were like a replica of us, the way they play, the way they push the ball,” Stinson said, “lt was like we were both playing each other’s game.”
Said Mosco: “They didn’t stop. They weren’t [11-0] for nothing.”
Stinson collected eight points in the first quarter, making a pair of jumpers from behind the arc. He emerged as a key scorer in the final minute, making a layup for a 63-57 lead, and swishing a pair of free throws for a 65-60 lead at the 0:30 mark.
After Purnell’s final three-pointer make it 65-63, Stinson caught the inbounds pass from Marcus Randolph and was fouled with 4.8 seconds on the clock.
He swished the first, then rattled home the second to seal the victory.
“It’s like everybody is counting on you,” Stinson said. “It’s the best moment.”
Archbishop Wood 18 13 18 18 – 67
Cardinal O’Hara 16 13 13 19 – 63
AW: Rahsool Diggins 14, Jaylen Stinson 16, Marcus Randolph 8, Daeshon Shepherd 16, Muneer Newton 11, Robert Jackson 2.
CO: Anthony Purnell 19, Adrian Irving 19, Tre Dinkins 13, Kevon Reeves 5,, Solo Bambera 4, Jax Trickey 3.