Dig­gins leads Wood over LC

Times Chronicle & Public Spirit - - SPORTS - By An­drew Robin­son arobin­[email protected]­tu­ry­media.com @ADRobin­son3 on Twit­ter

LANS­DALE >> Rah­sool Dig­gins had played well, but his team lost so he de­cided he just had to do more.

Arch­bishop Wood’s sopho­more point guard did just that over the rest of the week, help­ing the Vik­ings win three out of four games with a steady hand and plenty of points. With Lans­dale Catholic stand­ing in the way of a few wel­learned days off, Dig­gins au­thored a strong last chap­ter.

Led by 25 points from Dig­gins, Wood topped the Cru­saders 7652 in a PCL con­test Sun­day af­ter­noon.

“All I was re­ally try­ing to do was win,” Dig­gins said. “Com­ing off a tough loss to McDe­vitt, since then I’ve been hun­gry. I was just tak­ing what the de­fense would give me, I wasn’t forc­ing any­thing. My team­mates were giv­ing me the ball so I wanted to do it for them.”

Dig­gins started his week off with 24 points against Bishop McDe­vitt, but the Vik­ings lost that game by four in their Catholic League opener. Al­though just a sopho­more, Dig­gins is the sec­ond-most ex­pe­ri­enced player on Wood’s ros­ter be­hind se­nior Julius Phillips so he knew it was time to step up.

The 6-foot-1 guard recorded a near-triple dou­ble with 32 points, 10 re­bounds and nine as­sists as Wood topped Car­di­nal O’Hara on Thurs­day and a night later, dropped 35 points as the Vik­ings ral­lied from a 17-point deficit to top Sankofa Free­dom. Adding in Sun­day’s 25 points, Dig­gins tal­lied 116 points in four games this week, good for a 29 points per game av­er­age.

Wood got off to a slow start Sun­day but once Dig­gins, who played with a sore right wrist, got the blood flow­ing, his team­mates perked up. The sopho­more posted an­other good all-around game by adding six re­bounds, five as­sists and six steals to his line.

“I couldn’t re­ally move my wrist but once I got the adren­a­line go­ing, I was good to go,”

Dig­gins said. “I feel like I’ve ma­tured a lot, in­stead of rush­ing things, I’m tak­ing my time to find the best op­tion.”

There aren’t any easy nights in the PCL, but the Cru­saders could ar­gue there isn’t a much tougher gaunt­let than the open­ing three-game slate they faced this week. LC hosted de­fend­ing PCL and 6A state cham­pion Ro­man Catholic on Tues­day, trav­elled to 3A state cham­pion Neu­man­nGoretti on Thurs­day and then had Wood come in Sun­day.

LC coach Joe Cor­bett said that while Wood, which starts four sopho­mores around Phillips, may be young, the Vik­ings make up for it with ath­letic abil­ity and phys­i­cal­ity. It wasn’t a game for man-toman de­fense, so the Cru­saders threw a lot of dif­fer­ent looks out on that end.

“We tried to con­fuse them for as long as we could,” Cor­bett said. “We had to play zone, which left us sus­cep­ti­ble to some of­fen­sive re­bounds. They hit some shots and started to pull away but I thought the big dif­fer­ence was of­fen­sive re­bound­ing, they got plenty of sec­ond chance points and it looked like we were a lit­tle de­mor­al­ized as the game went on.”

Wood, which led 14-4 at the end of the first quar­ter, racked up 17 of­fen­sive re­bounds as a team, some­times just sim­ply out-jump­ing LC de­fend­ers for re­bounds. Muneer New­ton had an ath­letic be­hind the back save on a ball go­ing out of bounds in the sec­ond half and a cou­ple pos­ses­sions for Wood ended on fourth or fifth chances at the rim drop­ping through.

“They’re big and phys­i­cal, you have to try and move them out and it’s eas­ier said than done,” Cor­bett said. “They’re su­perath­letic, we gave up one, it leads to two, that leads to three. It’s tough, we knew it would be an is­sue com­ing in.”

Even play­ing through his wrist is­sue, Dig­gins shot 8-of-14 from the floor and con­nected on 3-of-5 from 3-point ter­ri­tory. He scored five points in the first quar­ter then af­ter miss­ing his first four shots of the sec­ond quar­ter, the guard still man­aged eight in the frame to lead the Vik­ings with 13 at the break.

The Vik­ings posted 15 as­sists as a team and had four play­ers reach dou­ble fig­ures. Phillips and Shep­herd each scored 15 points and were tough on the glass, pulling down nine and eight re­bounds re­spec­tively. Guard John Don­ahue came off the bench and knocked down all four shots he took, all from 3-point range, for 12 points.

Af­ter LC pulled within 25-20 with 2:25 left in the sec­ond, the Vik­ings closed on a 10-2 run to take a 3522 lead into the break. Wood man­aged to in­crease its lead in each quar­ter on Sun­day, some­thing Dig­gins took as a very pos­i­tive sign.

“Coach (John) Mosco lets us play through mis­takes, so I tell my team­mates to keep play­ing and ev­ery­body makes mis­takes,” Dig­gins said. “As a young team, we tend to let teams back in games a lot then we have to fight, fight and fight. To­day, we got up, kept the lead and stayed poised.”

As a fresh­man, Dig­gins some­times played the game too fast and got him­self into trou­ble. This year, with a year of var­sity hoops and a sum­mer of AAU to his name, the game is com­ing a lot eas­ier to the point guard.

His in­stinct is still to get the ball to team­mates, but if his team needs him to score, this week’s re­sults show the sopho­more can get it done. Dig­gins said he worked a lot on his mid­dle game over the sum­mer, the run­ners, floaters and pullup shots that de­fenses will give him know­ing that he’s look­ing to shoot from out­side or get to the rim.

“I thought he was the dif­fer­ence,” Cor­bett said. “We tried to throw the 1-3-1 out and he kind of sliced it up a cou­ple times, drib­bled through two of our bigs. He did a nice job of cre­at­ing his own shot and get­ting oth­ers in­volved. Ev­ery time we got a lit­tle closer, he was able to get a great shot for him­self or some­one else.”

Kyle Kane led LC with 19 points, scor­ing 11 of them in a hot-shoot­ing fourth quar­ter. Nick Romeo scored 10 and Hunter Healey had nine for Lans­dale Catholic.

LC will par­tic­i­pate in Ben­salem’s hol­i­day tour­na­ment next Thurs­day and Fri­day. The Cru­saders will have a cou­ple days off to re­group and re­cover be­fore a prac­tice Wed­nes­day. Cor­bett said he told his play­ers to stay to­gether, es­pe­cially af­ter such a tough week of games.

Wood will travel to Del­ware to take part in the Slam Dunk to the Beach show­case af­ter the hol­i­day and a cou­ple days off them­selves. Af­ter clos­ing a big week on such a strong note, Dig­gins said the en­tire team is head­ing into their brief break feel­ing good.

“There’s some chill time but it’s still busi­ness in the end,” Dig­gins said. “We’re go­ing down there to put some work in.”

Wood 76, LC 52

DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA FILE PHOTO

Arch­bishop Wood’s Rah­sool Dig­gins scored 25 points in a 76-52 win over LC on Sun­day.

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