It's easy for a player or team to get amped up for a league game or one against a long-standing rival, but what if your schedule looks like Archbishop Wood's?
The Vikings opened the girls' basketball season against Bishop Ford, which had reached the Brooklyn/Queens Division I championship game last season. Then they traveled to Arizona, where they competed in the Nike Tournament of Champions, featuring some of the top teams in the nation.
The next challenge for the Vikings was Archbishop Molloy, considered one of the best teams in New York state and boasting three Division I recruits.
Fresh off a big Catholic League win over Bonner-Prendergast on Friday night, the Vikings couldn't make it two in as many days. They fell, 36-35, Saturday at the New York/Philly Challenge at Lower Merion.
"We are able to see our kids against really good competition early and see if they are able to function in an atmosphere like that," Wood coach Jim Ricci said.
Leading by as much as 16 in the second quarter, the Vikings were handily in control of the game behind some good defense and poor shooting by Molloy. Wood received contributions on offense from several players, including sophomore Aubree Brown and senior Colleen Young.
Meanwhile, Molloy went 3 for 9 from the field, not scoring a field goal until two minutes remained in the second quarter.
The Vikings, ranked ninth in Southeastern Pennsylvania by The Inquirer, went into halftime with a 12-point lead, but in the third, the Lions came out with more pace and enthusiasm, outscoring Wood by 16-5.
Molloy's resurgence was sparked by senior Carolyn Gallagher, who went on a tear in the second half. She scored 15 of her 17 points in the final 16 minutes.
Despite being unable to come up with an answer for Gallagher on the defensive end, the Vikings (3-4) stayed in the game until the very last possession.
Senior Jackie Pierson stole an inbounds pass, giving her team a chance to win with a buzzer-beater. But a shot from the baseline and a hurried putback attempt missed.
The Vikings will get back to league play this coming week, as they face Conwell-Egan (Tuesday) and Hallahan (Friday).
"We play for our league and for the states," Ricci said. "Some people get all caught up in their records and winning 20 games. We never worry about that."
Archbishop Wood 12 12 5 6 – 35
Archbishop Molloy 4 8 16 8 – 36
AW: Colleen Young 8, Aubree Brown 7, Jess Kaminski 6, Haley Scullion 5, Jackie Pierson 4, Rachel Day 4, Laura Trisch 1.
AM: Carolyn Gallagher 17, Amani Tatum 7, Sarah Duryea 5, Alexa Dietrich 4, Aryn McClure 3.