Holy Moses! Connaghan leads Wood to win over Judge

Posted: January 17, 2014

LUKE CONNAGHAN knows exactly who Moses Malone is. Well, sort of.

"Yeah, [with] John Stockton," the Archbishop Wood power forward said.

Crickets chirped.

"Oh, no - Moses!" Connaghan rebounded quickly. "I'm sorry. Yeah, Sixers, right? Played on the Sixers awhile ago?"

The minuscule faux pas was emblematic of the 6-4 center's night at Father Judge. Connaghan scored his Catholic League season-best, 25 points, on 10-for-17 shooting with a few vintage-Moses putbacks.

The Vikings (8-5, 5-0) eventually knocked off the feisty Crusaders, 54-37, to remain undefeated in CL play and extend their winning streak to five.

Kids, consult your smartphones while the rotary-phone generation reminisces on the Hall of Famer's knack for rebounding his own misses (maybe on purpose) around the basket.

Wood's usual fun-and-run style gave way to a 3-for-20 (15 percent) night from three and 21 of 51 (41 percent) overall. However, four of Connaghan's 11 rebounds came off his own misses in the first quarter, which eventually led to an 18-17 lead at intermission.

"If it doesn't go in, I usually just try to stay around the basket to see if I can get it back and go right back up," the 17-year-old said. "Obviously I want to try and make the first one, but if something happens . . . just have to stay with the ball and put it back up."

The up-tempo style that head coach John Mosco brought from Ss. Neumann-Goretti was countered by an intense defensive effort by the Crusaders (4-10, 1-4). In fact, both teams acquitted themselves well on that end.

Judge shot just 11-for-42 (26 percent) from the field and 1-for-16 from distance. Freshman guard Marc Rodriguez showed no back-down with 19 points. He also tangled with Wood senior Pat Smith (Cornell) in the fourth quarter, which earned both fouls with Wood already cruising, 50-34.

Judge junior Will Brazukas scored eight points and added three assists with some fine point-guard play.

But, there was just too much Connaghan. The Warrington resident authored his own 9-2 run to start the third. Then, in the fourth, he added a unique baseline basket.

He rose up with two-hands, but laid the ball in and then grabbed the rim. A dunk?

"A 'lunk,' " quipped Judge athletic trainer Anthony "A-Rod" Rodriguez, who was sitting courtside. The half-dunk, half-layup made it, 39-31, with 5:51 left and Wood was off and running.

"I don't want to call it a dunk," Connaghan joked. "I'll get a better one later on."

No matter. Connaghan, whose brother, Patrick (Springside Chestnut Hill), plays at the University of the Sciences, isn't about flash or panache.

"I just kind of consider myself the hustle guy," he said. "I get the team going and see if they can feed off my energy. Whether it's rebounds or a dunk, I just try to do what I can to keep my teammates motivated and make them work harder."

Smith tallied 16 (6-for-12 overall, 2-for-7 from three) and added five rebounds. Joe LoStracco (six), Tom Rush (three), Tom Funk (two) and Mark Webb (two) were the only other scorers for the Vikings, who host La Salle tomorrow at 7 p.m.

Judge travels to St. Joseph's Prep at 3:45 p.m.

Despite the low-scoring game, Connaghan took some solace knowing his team isn't completely one-dimensional.

"Absolutely," he said. "This game just proves that it doesn't matter if the other team is trying to push it or we're trying to push it, you can still lockdown and defend teams and hold their score down."

On Twitter: @AceCarterDN

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