Pickron, Cerruti help spark Wood to first-ever PCL title

Tyree Pickron of Archbishop Wood celebrates during his team’s 2nd half rally against Neumann Goretti in the Boys’ Catholic League Championship Game at the Palestra on Feb. 27, 2017 CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer

To the victor went the markers, Sharpies and perhaps even the pens and pencils.

Writing utensils abounded after Archbishop Wood won its first Catholic League championship at the Palestra Monday night.

Autograph seekers sought Wood's star, senior Villanova signee Collin Gillespie, who graciously penned his name to game tickets with whatever writing instrument fans put in front of him.

Even the aunt of Wood player Zahree Harrison sent the freshman guard with a pen and a ticket to retrieve a signature. Erica Triolo, the niece of Wood coach John Mosco, also nabbed a photo as a Gillespie keepsake.

Sometimes, however, even stars need help to shine.

Teamwork was the theme Monday night for the Vikings, who overcame a 13-point halftime deficit against Neumann-Goretti. According to TedSilary.com, the deficit was the largest conquered by intermission in a PCL final.

Gillespie struggled in the early proceedings but was buoyed by a brilliant third quarter by Tyree Pickron and Matt Cerruti.

"(They were) huge for us because I wasn't shooting the ball well," said Gillespie, who scored 22 of his game-high 24 points in the second half. "They got me going. It really helps when you have other guys to score the basketball."

Cerruti made a quick 3-pointer to start the third and was quickly followed by a Pickron triple from the right wing. Gillespie added a floater in the lane that was followed quickly by a Pickron three from the left side.

In fact, during the momentum-changing third quarter in which Wood won, 25-10, that trio scored all of the Vikings' points.

"We were a little tight," Pickron said, "but we were the opposite in the second half. But, yeah, in the first half we were definitely tight and we didn't see the ball going in so that made us even more (tight)."

Eventually, the rigor mortis lifted and the fluidity of their jumpers returned. Wood shot just 1 of 11 from three in the first half, but went 6 of 8 from deep in the second half.

"Coach John and Collin told us to keep shooting, and we all just treat each other like a family,"

Pickron said, "when we do that, it's easy for us to play together."

Pickron, a 6-foot-3 junior forward, finished with 13 points, including 9 in the third on three 3-pointers. Cerruti, a 6-foot-5 senior, added 10 in the frame, 15 for the game.

"I've been saying all year 'It's a team effort,'" said Mosco, once a longtime assistant coach at Neumann-Goretti before taking over at Wood in 2014.

In the second half, the Vikings passed the ball frequently, with several possessions likely yielding close to double-digits passes.

"I think we're really dangerous if we play like (that)," Pickron said. "If we play like we did in the first half, anybody can beat us. If we play like we did in the second half, not a lot of teams can beat us."