LoStracco’s big night lifts Wood over La Salle

Posted: February 06, 2012

WHEN ASKED a certain question Monday night, Joe LoStracco semi-winced and said, "Too many times to count . . . way too many to count."

Let it be noted that LoStracco, a sophomore at Archbishop Wood High, stands 6-7 and weighs 280 pounds, and that basketball is his only sport.

Since you read the Daily News, we know you're smart. So you get only one guess to lay out the question referenced in the opening sentence.

You are cor-rect. Indeed it was: How many times have you been asked to play football?

In the last 2 years, that is. LoStracco did play CYO football for the Romans, a squad that represents multiple Buck County parishes, through the eighth grade, but then he retired his cleats and decided to concentrate solely on hoops.

"When people ask me, I tell them I didn't really like football that much and that I wanted to focus on my main love, basketball," LoStracco said. "I didn't feel like I had the mentality for football. Like I wasn't nasty enough. I'm sure I could have gotten it, but . . . 

"Also, I was a lineman. I felt maybe I could have been a tight end, a position where you get more recognition and the chance to show that you're not just big, but also an athlete. In basketball, you can get recognized as a skilled player."

Matter of fact . . . 

As the visiting Vikings bested La Salle, 66-54, in a Catholic League game, LoStracco grabbed 12 rebounds and shot 7-for-11 for and 2-for-2 for 16 points.

He scored the game's first four points, on dump-in passes from forward Mike Neher, and finished the 14-10 first quarter with eight. The tone was set - Wood had rolled to a 10-3 lead in the first 3:24 - and La Salle could never completely alter it.

LoStracco is quite the imposing sight. Now, he has a work ethic to match.

"Last year, I felt like I was under some pressure [as a freshman starter] and that I was still getting a feel for everything," he said. "All of a sudden, it began to click. I need to use my God-given size instead of trying to show finesse. Get the ball. Power it up.

"I've gotten better at positioning and shielding off the defenders."

Coach Jack Walsh used a six-man rotation, and it's only a rumor that the pregame meal featured formula. Football star Kyle Adkins, the point guard, is the only senior and Neher is the lone junior. LoStracco and guards Pat Smith and Tommy Rush are sophs, while guard Cody Fitzpatrick, whose lone shot, a true moonball, connected from maybe 30 feet, is a freshman.

Smith went 9-for-11 at the line while collecting 20 points. Rush was almost perfect - 3-for-4 on treys, 4-for-4 at the line - for 13 points. Adkins mixed six assists with nine points, and Neher posted six stats, including three assists (of four), before even attempting a shot.

For La Salle, Matt Rodden (18) shot 5-for-12 on treys and Amar Stukes added 13 points. The team's smallest players, starter Darnell Artis (four) and sub P.J. Acierno, combined for seven assists.

The Explorers did edge within 56-49 with 2:25 left after Walsh was hit with a tech, but the tacked-on possession yielded zilch (missed trey by Rodden, rebound to LoStracco) and a calm air of confidence was quickly restored.

La Salle went an ouchish 4-for-12 at the line. Wood was 19-for-25.

"We'd rather have them not make any runs at us," said LoStracco, who lives in Chalfont. "But at least they were small ones. Not one big one that would see them getting the lead."

Last fall, of course, Wood captured the Class AAA state football title. LoStracco said he saw the final and several other key games.

What if he's walking down the hallway and sees coach Steve Devlin coming toward him?

"I shake his hand and say, 'Hi, Mr. Devlin,' " LoStracco said, smiling. "He stopped asking me a while ago. Most of the ones who ask are people I don't know."

And maybe the DN readers among them will stop.

Online high school coverage at philly.com/rally.

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