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