Not much has changed for visiting teams at Father Judge in many, many years. Head coach Sean Tait carries on the tradition of playing solid and deliberately paced high school basketball. There is no shot clock and Judge takes advantage of every possession, not in slowdown, but in smart offensive possessions with lots of screens, back door cuts and smart shot selection.
Even a perennially high ranked team such as the Vikings of Archbishop Wood has felt the sting of entering the cauldron of the Crusaders den. Three years in a row Wood has fallen to Judge in PCL play. On January 2, 2018, in the first game of the new year, and also the first game of the regular season, Wood entered the belly of the beast once again.
This year the Vikings are nationally ranked, No. 34 according to one poll, and feature a near seven footer in the thinly framed Seth Pinkney. He’s not the only D1 quality player on this squad. Three others, Andrew Funk at 6’4” (Bucknell), 6’3” Tyree Pickron (Quinnipiac) and 6’7” Karrington Wallace (Central Connecticut State), have all signed national letters of intent with their respective school choices.
Pinkney is planning to wait until the season is over, much like his accomplished former mate Collin Gillespie did. Gillespie was thought of as a D2 player prior to the ’16-17 campaign, but clearly became a major D1 selection when he outplayed everyone he faced, and in many opinions was the best pure guard in the state last year. Pinkney feels he can up the ante by showing a more versatile all around game, and therefore draw higher level attention.
Head coach John Mosco, of Wood’s defending league, District 12 and PA 5A state champs, knew the challenge and came prepared for a tough, grind it out affair. Tied after the first quarter, and the half, the Vikings started to open up a margin in the third, slowly wearing down the lively and smart home court Crusaders. At the end of the third, the score was 40-32, with Wood ending up taking the game 53-42.
Judge made it a physical and competitive game all the way through, not yielding anything to the visitors from Warminster, patience on offense being the key ingredient to keeping it close.
Pinkney took a bit of a beating on his slender physique from his shorter counterparts, but never complained and was up for the challenge. He finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists and a couple of blocked shots thrown in. He was quite often doubled and tripled down. Funk added 12 and Pickron 10 for the Vikings.
For the valiant Crusaders, big man Tom Quarry (6’6”) popped for 12 and held his own against his taller opponent, giving away about 4-6 inches depending on who is doing the measurements. He’s a great student and is taking his excellent academic record to Johns Hopkins. He was aided by junior Shane Dooley, also with 12, and Drew Riley, with 14 and eight boards.
The Crusaders lost all-time program leading scorer Marc Rodriguez last year to graduation (now at ESU), but with their solid fundamentals and coaching they intend to give all comers in the very competitive PCL a tough game.