Kehler on Hoops: Archbishop Ryan Defeats Archbishop Wood 74-73

Written by: on Saturday, February 19th, 2022



2021-22 has been a basketball season for the ages in the Philadelphia Catholic League. The overall quality of play in the league has been at the highest level in over two decades, and, with the exception of a couple of teams, the competitive balance has been superb. The Catholic League is brimming with talent this season and game after game has been outstanding. Archbishop Ryan’s 74-73 nail biter over host Archbishop Wood on Friday night in a Catholic Leaguer playoff quarterfinal is yet another example of why this loop is Pennsylvania’s best high school basketball league.

Both Ryan and Wood advanced to PIAA state championship games last season, Ryan in Class 5A and Wood in Class 6A. In spite of major graduation losses for both teams, Ryan and Wood are leading contenders for PIAA state championships next month.

Archbishop Wood’s gym was jam packed for the playoff showdown with Archbishop Ryan. Lots of kids from both schools were on hand, and they were loud! Wood had to be considered the favorite in the game, having defeated Ryan in Wood’s gym by seven points in a regular season league game last month.

Friday night’s playoff game was intense and fast-paced throughout. Wood jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead on a free throw by 6′ 8″ junior Carson Howard, two free throws by 6′ 3″ senior Tyson Allen, a three pointer by 6′ 5″ senior Mike Knouse, and two more free throws by Allen. Ryan certainly wasn’t overwhelmed, and, by the middle of the first quarter, they were back in the game, trailing 12-8, following a couple of hoops inside by 6′ 9″ sophomore Thomas Sorber. The powerful Sorber, a first team all league selection, was difficult for Wood to contain all evening. Early in the second quarter, Ryan tied the game at 23 on a three pointer by 6′ 4″ sophomore Darren Williams. Shortly thereafter, Ryan took their first lead of the game, 24-23, on a free throw by Williams. Wood quickly recaptured the lead, 30-24, with a 7-0 run on a couple of free throws by 6′ 2″ sophomore Jalil Bethea, a steal and a breakaway layup by 6′ 2″ senior Justin Moore, and a three pointer by Moore. Then, Ryan had a strong finish to the second quarter, sparked by scoring from Sorber and Williams, plus a three pointer from 6′ 1″ senior sharpshooter Luke Boyd. The game was tied at 37 at halftime. The general outline of the game was clear after 16 minutes of play: Wood wanted to run, and Ryan decided to run with them. Both teams were looking for shot opportunities from behind the arc. Sorber was an offensive force, whether shooting from inside or when screening on the perimeter to set up jump shots.

Ryan recaptured the lead at the beginning of the second half, 40-37, on another three pointer by Boyd. Ryan maintained a narrow lead throughout most of the third quarter, primarily on the basis of an inside attack by Sorber and by 6′ 6″ sophomore Jaden Murray. However, Wood captured the lead, 55-53, at the very end of the third frame on consecutive three pointers by Moore and Knouse.

At the opening of the final quarter, Wood’s lead expanded to 58-53 on another three pointer by Knouse. A bit later, Wood went up by seven points, 61-54, on a three point play by the outstanding Moore. A couple of minutes later, trailing by six, Ryan went on an 11-0 run, on a hoop inside by Sorber, another three pointer by Boyd, a fast break dunk by Boyd, a fast break dunk by Williams, and another hoop by Williams. That made it 68-63, Ryan. With less than two minutes left in the game and trailing 72-66, Wood launched one more run on a free throw by 6′ 4″ junior Basil Laster, a three pointer by Bethea, and a drive by Moore. That tied the game at 72 with under a minute left. Ryan scored the winning points on a drive by 6′ 3″ senior Jalen Snead, with just a few seconds left. Wood got a couple of shots as time expired, but they fell short.

This spirited game was played at a high level of skill, and the intensity built with the see saw flow of the action. Ryan has a strong offense when operating from a half court set. In this game, they demonstrated the ability to run with high octane Archbishop Wood. Ryan’s offensive arsenal includes the terrific inside player Thomas Sorber, and two guys, in Luke Boyd and Darren Williams, who are adept at both driving on the hoop and shooting from beyond the arc.

Ryan and Wood had 31 rebounds each. Ryan committed 17 turnovers, and Wood committed 11. Ryan was eight of 15 from the stripe, while Wood was 20 of 30. Ryan made six three pointers in the game, and Wood made nine shots from beyond the arc.

Archbishop Ryan scoring: Thomas Sorber 21, Darren Williams 20, Luke Boyd 12, Jaden Murray 9, Michael Paris 8, and Jalen Sneed 4.

Archbishop Wood scoring: Justin Moore 26, Tyson Allen 20, Mike Knouse 12, Jalil Bethea 8, Carson Howard 4, and Basil Laster 3.

Archbishop Ryan 14 23 16 21-74
Archbishop Wood 18 19 18 18-73

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