Wood's win is no small feet

Posted: January 10, 2014

WHAT IN the world is a 6-7, 285-pound center supposed to do in an up-tempo offense? Simple: Run!

So, Joe LoStracco laces up his size-18s for Archbishop Wood and hoofs it every day before practice. While the little guys do skill work, the big senior works on conditioning drills.

In fact, before last night's tipoff against Bishop McDevitt, first-year Viking coach John Mosco revealed that LoStracco would come off the bench until he returned to basketball form after a season on the football team's offensive line.

After a 17-point, eight-rebound performance in Wood's 89-72 win over visiting McDevitt, maybe it's safe to say he's close.

After all, his first two buckets came courtesy of those size-18 Great Danes.

"Most people think that I can't run the floor that well," LoStracco said. "But there's a couple times that I'm able to surprise people and get up and down . . . That's how I'm able to get transition buckets because they don't think I'll be able to get down there, and then I'm down there waiting for it."

After 18 years as an assistant in Ss. Neumann-Goretti's successful fun-and-run style, Mosco said he doesn't "know any other way."

It's still early in Catholic League play, but with five players in double figures last night, maybe Mosco is on to something.

Luke Connaghan paced the Vikings (5-5, 2-0 CL) with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Pat Smith added 18 and Cody Fitzpatrick tallied 16, which included twin, are-you-serious three-pointers. Tommy Rush was No. 5 with 10 points and five assists.

Fitzpatrick's first triple came from at least three normal steps behind the line on the right side of the Lancers' zone. Part 2 came from farther out on the left side, maybe three size-18s beyond three land.

"It really opens it up and makes teams play us man-to-man because they can't really play zone because he can hit it from so far out," LoStracco said. "It just opens the floor a whole lot for drives in the lane."

An early 13-3 Vikings run earned separation as poor shot selection and few defensive rebounds cost the Lancers.

Don't blame McDevitt senior Tyrell Long on the rebounds. He gobbled up 19 (12 offensive). His 27 points also kept McDevitt (6-6, 1-2) around in the second half after the Lancers fell behind, 40-30, at the break.

Just like LoStracco gets in extra conditioning before practice, Long hopped in the JV squad's layup line as the team warmed up for the second half.

The Lancers were coming off an impressive win against St. Joseph's Prep on Monday, so perhaps Long was trying to ensure there was no letdown.

Effort wasn't an issue, a multi-pronged Vikings attack was the problem. After a 13-4 McDevitt surge cut Wood's lead to 70-64 with less than 5 minutes remaining, a 12-2 response, started by a LoStracco put-back, carried the Vikings to victory.

"It's been tough, it's been really tough," LoStracco said of getting back in hoops shape. "But I've been working hard before practice and stuff . . . More conditioning stuff and finishing around the rim, so that's really helping me a lot in recent times."

Basketball has always been his first love since he played CYO ball at St. Jude's, where he was coached by former Wood skipper Jack Walsh. However, he didn't want to leave high school with unfinished business.

"Last year, after basketball season, my parents and I talked and I just decided I didn't want to regret not playing football since it was my last year," he said. "It was one of those things where I didn't want to regret it, and I ended up having a good time."

He barely saw any action on Wood's Class AAA state championship team, but LoStracco said his parents (Ralph and Susan) didn't raise quitters. He still enjoyed the ride with his teammates and used the time to get stronger.

Next year he's hoping to play college basketball and said some Division III schools have taken an interest.

He also said it would be nice if his feet stopped growing. You can't exactly just saunter into any retail outlet lugging 18s around. Those babies have to be ordered and he's at his go-to provider's limit.

But there's time for that. For now, it's all about the present.

"We really feel like we've gotten a lot better and we're meshing as a team right now," he said. "So, hopefully we can just keep it going."

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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