Wood boys cruise again to win District 12 5A title

Archbishop Wood players - including Matt Cerutti (20), Collin Gillespie (center, with plaque) and Keith Otto (5) - pose with the title hardware after winning the District 12 Class 5A boys' basketball championship by defeating Martin Luther King on Friday night at Father Judge.

If Archbishop Wood came out flat Friday night against Martin Luther King, it would be hard to blame coach John Mosco's squad.

The Vikings knocked off Neumann-Goretti in front of a sellout crowd at the Palestra Wednesday night to clinch the school's first ever Catholic League championship.

Since then, adulation flowed in the halls at school and in every corner of social media, which could have led to overconfidence or apathy.

Instead, the Vikings pillaged and plundered the Cougars from start to finish en route to an 87-51 victory at Father Judge that clinched the District 12 Class 5A title.

"I was worried," Mosco said. "My one assistant said 'Oh, don't worry about it.' But I was worried because we had two [bad] practices."

Within a few minutes, it was clear that Mosco needn't worry.

Wood made its first three three-pointers, forced four turnovers and held an 11-2 advantage with 5 minutes, 47 seconds left in the first quarter.

Senior wing Matt Cerruti led the Vikings (23-3) with 20 points and made 7 of his 9 shots, with 4 of 6 coming from three-point range.

"We usually like to think we're going to be that hot, so we weren't complaining," Cerruti said. "Tonight it was falling for everybody, so we weren't complaining. Hopefully it stays like that."

Consistently passing up good shots in favor of great shots, as has become Wood's custom, should help.

For example, Collin Gillespie sniffed a triple-double, finishing with 14 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists and did not play the final few minutes of the fourth quarter.

According to its coaching staff, Wood's offense netted 11 assists on its first 14 made field goals.

As a team, Wood finished with 20 assists on 31 made baskets.

The willingness to play team basketball, Cerruti said, makes it easy to play together and stay even tempered in spite of the success and accolades.

"Honestly, it's not that hard playing with these guys," he said. "They kind of keep us even-keeled, especially Collin, Tyree Pickron, Keith [Otto] and Andrew [Funk]. We all share the ball, so it's easy to play, and it's fun. We love it."

King (20-9) was led by Qadir Burgess's 11 points. Dennelle Holly Jr. and Elijah Kiah-El added nine points apiece.

The Vikings will have the top seed when the first round begins Friday against Oxford from District 3.

King will be the No. 2 seed from the district and will play the No. 4 seed from District 1, also on Friday. Dates, times and locations will likely be announced on Sunday evening.

Archbishop Wood 28 16 23 20 - 87

Martin Luther King 14 10 15 12 - 51

AW: Collin Gillespie 14, Tyree Pickron 15, Keith Otto 12, Matt Cerruti 20, Seth Pinkney 7, Andrew Funk 8, Karrington Wallace 1, Julius Phillips 6, Shawn Thompson 2, Bryce Stock 2.

MLK: Qadir Burgess 11, Dennelle Holly Jr. 9, Elijah Kiah-El 9, Will McNair 6, Jihad Watson 3, Ricardo Monteiro 3, Jerry Andrews-Fulton 2, Mikey Robinson 5, Kawi Morris 3.