When Wood brings the Funk, wins follow
Even on an off-night, Archbishop Wood point guard Tom Funk shows he's still the team leader.
JOHN MOSCO waited patiently as his point guard fielded questions just outside of Archbishop Wood's makeshift locker room.
The second-year coach hadn't yet addressed his victorious Vikings, but his court marshal was snatched for an interview ahead of time.
Eyeballing his affable coach, Tom Funk flashed a giant grin when Mosco was asked if he needed the 6-0 junior.
"Nah, [I'm waiting on him]," Mosco joked as assistant coaches also laughed. "He's got to talk to the team, I'm not. It's his team."
Is that true?
"Pretty much," Funk volleyed. "I tell them what we need to do."
Jokes aside, the Warrington resident was the leader the Vikings needed in the final 4 minutes of a 63-54 win against the Pennington School (N.J.) at the Mary Kline Winter Classic held inside the girls' gym at Wood.
"I like to think that I've been a leader because I've been a point guard a while," Funk said. "I don't like to be a follower. I mean, I will be if I have to, but a leadership role is something I like to embrace."
Senior forward Luke Connaghan - 23 points and 11 rebounds on 8-for-11 shooting - walked away with the game's MVP, but a key fourth-quarter stretch had Funk written all over it.
"It's definitely a big win for us," Funk said. "Most of our other games were good but we won pretty easily, so fighting back and forth the whole game with a good team in Pennington, it's big to win a close one like that and test us."
By his own admission, Funk didn't shoot the ball well yesterday. He also didn't score much and he didn't have that many assists. Plus, the opponent he spent much of the night guarding finished with 22 points.
However, with the Vikings clinging to a 49-47 lead, Funk hit fellow senior Cody Fitzpatrick for a deep (two steps behind the line) three.
Then on the ensuing defensive possession, Funk went to the floor for a loose rebound, starting a fast break that eventually led to Connaghan (7-for-9) free throws.
A few trips later, Funk lured defenders on a drive that allowed Connaghan to clean his miss and earn more freebies.
Funk then drew an offensive foul before hitting Fitzpatrick for another triple, giving Wood a 58-49 edge with about 2:15 remaining.
"When Cody hits a shot like that from deep, that just gets us all hyped up and gets us going," Funk said. "It got us going better on defense, too."
Fitzpatrick scored all eight of his points during the final 4 minutes (he also added two free throws).
Despite a late miscue, Tyree Pickron, a 6-3 freshman wing with gobs of potential, added 11 points and seven rebounds.
Up five with 1:12 left, Pickron moved toward the basket and found feisty defenders when the prudent play was to run clock. Fortunately for Wood (4-0), Fitzpatrick got possession and earned a trip to the line.
Funk walked over and schooled the youngster during the subsequent break in the action,
"I just told him if we needed a bucket there I knew he could go up and finish, but just try to realize time and score and realize we just needed a good possession. The next play, he got the rebound and kicked it out and that basically sealed the game for us."
He may have only scored 10 points on 3-for-12 shooting, but Funk also added seven rebounds and doled out four important assists. And, when needed, he also took a back seat to Connaghan, whose college recruitment (Randolph Macon, Chestnut Hill, DeSales, Scranton) is sure to pick up.
"He's the hardest worker on the team without a doubt," Funk said. "Every time he steps out on the court he's the hardest worker. He's not always the biggest kid, but he'll go toe-to-toe with anyone. He'll out work them and get his points. Wherever he goes next year, he can make the program a lot better."
Pennington, the alma mater of yesterday's host, Alex Kline, was led by senior wing Isiah Taylor (22 points, nine rebounds).
Yesterday's packed event sent all proceeds to the National Brain Tumor Society and Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. It was an expansion of the Mary Kline Classic Charity All-Star event, which has raised $86,000 in 4 years. Kline started the events to honor his mother, Mary Kline, who died 10 years ago after battling cancer.
A different form of cancer (breast) recently touched Funk's aunt, Maria Greenberg (also his Godmother), whom Funk said is now cancer free.
"It was definitely a tough year for us," he said, "but it's great to come out and do an event like this for people who have lost lives to cancer."