HERSHEY, Pa. -- There are no moral victories in Hershey, but the inexperienced Vikings from Archbishop Wood briefly eclipsed Moon late in the second half before a devastating descent at the Giant Center in Hershey.
District 7 Moon, a team led by four senior starters, came from behind in the fourth quarter and won the PIAA Class 5A championship, 74-64.
Wood, the District 12 top seed with just one senior on its roster, took a seven-point edge into the final frame before faltering late.
“They played steady the whole game,” said Wood coach John Mosco. “They didn’t rattle. We got a few turnovers and didn’t capitalize on them. They made their foul shots at the end. All their seniors stepped up.”
Senior guard Connor Ryan led the Tigers (27-2) with 28 points, including 17 in the final frame. Fellow senior guard Jioni Smith finished with eight points, a game-high 11 assists, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
“I knew we weren’t going to come out [in the fourth] and roll over,” said Moon coach Adam Kaufman. “They’re not those types of kids.”
The Tigers outscored Wood, 30-13, in the fourth.
Wood had taken a 51-44 edge into the final frame and added two more early after senior Julius Phillips tipped in a miss.
Sophomores Daeshon Shepherd and Rahsool Diggins led the Vikings (19-9) with 22 and 20 points, respectively.
The pair even connected on an alley-oop launched near halfcourt from Diggins into the hands of Shepherd, who dunked the ball with authority. On Wood’s previous possession, Diggins had thrown a similar lob pass just out of Shepherd’s reach, resulting in a turnover.
“We have to use this as a learning experience,” Mosco said. “That’s what I just told them. This hurts, but life hurts. Everything is not positive. You’re gonna win some and lose some, but you have to fight through it and make us a better team.”
Shepherd added eight rebounds, five on the offensive side. Diggins finished 8-of-23 overall, 0-of-6 from three. He added six rebounds, four assists, and three steals.
Wood finished with 19 offensive rebounds.
The Vikings used defensive pressure late in the third to turn a four-point deficit with 2 minutes, 48 seconds left in the quarter into a seven-point lead.
“I think in the beginning of the game we were a little nervous,” Mosco said. “Then we settled in during the middle of the game and got a little … I don’t know if it was nerves or just we started pressing and didn’t play together as much down the stretch.”
Moon 16 9 19 30 -- 74
Wood 11 12 28 13 -- 64
M: Jioni Smith 8, Donovan Johnson 17, Austin Ryan 8, Connor Ryan 28, Taru Jones 13,