After what Archbishop Wood's Pat Smith experienced during the week, Archbishop Ryan coach Bernie Rogers had a few words of non-basketball advice for his players.
"I told them during practice, 'Go home and hug your dad. You never know what's going to happen in life. You're not guaranteed anything.' "
On Wednesday, Smith, a junior swingman for the Vikings, lost his 59-year-old father, Brian, to an apparent heart attack. "He was literally everything to me," the 17-year-old said.
Smith courageously played Friday night, with the home crowd, aware of the circumstances, pulling for him and his teammates.
It wasn't enough, though. The Raiders, boosted by Bryan[CQ] Okolo's 25 points, moved ahead in the second quarter and prevailed, 49-41, in an emotional Catholic League matchup in Warminster.
"I think that's pretty tough for any individual," Rogers said afterward. "We told [Wood coach] Jack Walsh that we'd be more than willing to switch the game."
In 30 minutes of action, the 6-foot-5, 180-pound Smith managed 12 points, three rebounds, three assists, and a blocked shot. "I wanted to play to get my mind off things," he said.
After missing his first three shots, Okolo, a senior guard, drilled four three-pointers. He added seven boards and four steals.
"Pat Smith is a great player," said Okolo, a senior guard. "That'ssomething heavy he's dealing with right now. We wish him the best."
A moment of silence was held before the game. When Smith went to the bench with 9.8 seconds remaining, he was given a standing ovation.
The 5-10, 185-pound Okolo shot 7 for 11 from the field (4 for 7 on treys) and 7 for 9 from the line. He is hearing from the Division III likes of Gwynedd-Mercy and University of the Sciences.
"He's really becoming a complete player," Rogers said. "He's scoring, creating opportunities for other guys, and defending well."
For Ryan, which improved to 8-4 overall and 3-0 in the Catholic League, 6-2 junior Brendan Horan contributed 10 points, seven boards, and two assists.
Down by 19-13 in the second quarter, the Raiders, aided by Okolo's inside follow, put together an 11-0 run. They were ahead, 24-22, at the break.
At the end of the third stanza, Okolo's back-to-back treys provided a 31-27 lead. In the fourth, Wood (7-4, 2-1) could get no closer than four.
For the Vikings, who were hurt by 15 turnovers, Cody Fitzpatrick (three assists) and Shane Neher scored 10 and nine points, respectively. Joe LoStracco grabbed nine caroms.
Archbishop Ryan 6 18 7 18-49
Archbishop Wood 13 9 5 14-41
AR: Gage Galeone 6, Bryan Okolo 25, Brendan Horan 10, Tyler Reed 8.
AW: Tom Rush 6, Cody Fitzpatrick 10, Joe LoStracco 4, Shane Neher 9, Pat Smith 12.