Raw Sports

Justice Williams, Jalen Duren and powerful Roman Catholic offense knock off Archbishop Wood in PCL Semifinal By: Tyler Harden

PHILADELPHIA— The Philadelphia Catholic League is one of the most, if not the most, prestigious leagues in Pennsylvania High School Basketball. Wednesday night at the Palestra was no exception. Roman Catholic and Archbishop Wood are two of the best teams in the state, and as the two teams were set to face off in the semifinals, the game could not have been better.

Both teams were coming in after close victories, Archbishop Wood defeated Archbishop Carroll in double overtime, and Roman Catholic beat Bonner-Prendergast on a buzzer beater. Roman Catholic’s big three in sophomores Jalen Duren and Justice Williams, along with senior Lynn Greer III were on full display Wednesday night, but Rahsool Diggins and the Archbishop Wood Vikings were the 1-seed, and they wanted to keep it that way.

Roman Catholic started out strong, as Justice Williams scored 9 points to lead the Cahillites to a 19-8 lead. Archbishop Wood was not shooting very well, so it was the perfect opportunity for Roman Catholic to build a lead.

The Cahillites continued their rhythm into the second quarter, as Lynn Greer III hit a midrange and Justice Williams scored a layup to give Roman Catholic a 23-10 lead.

But it was only a matter of time that Archbishop Wood would gain momentum and start to close the lead. Rahsool Diggins and Marcus Randolph each hit threes to cut the lead to 6 at 26-20. Shortly after, big man, Jalen Duren, did what he does best and slammed a one hand dunk off of a full court pass from Greer III to halt the Vikings rhythm. However, Diggins scored a buzzer beater layup to end the half with Roman Catholic in the lead 36-26.

The second half showed why Jalen Duren is one of the best players in the country in the 2022 class (Duren is the #2 ranked overall player in the Class of 2022 via 247sports), as he slammed back to back dunks to give Roman Catholic a 50-33 lead part way through the 3rd quarter. Justice Williams gave the Cahillites a 55-37 lead at the end of the 3rd after a drive and layup.

The fourth quarter consisted of what seems like one thing, foul shots. The teams combined for 43 foul shots in what seemed like an endless fourth quarter. Roman Catholic’s Big 3 has been a big part of the team all season, but this game was somewhat different. Freshman, Xzayvier Jones and Senior, Nasir Lett both stepped up with a combined 20 points, and neither player missed a shot. Jones was 3 for 3 from the field, 2 for 2 from three and 4 for 4 from the foul line, and Nasir Lett was 2 for 2 from three and 2 for 2 from the foul line.

But Archbishop Wood needed a huge fourth quarter, and Rahsool Diggins is the type of player that would give them one. Diggins scored 20 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter. After Archbishop Wood showed one last bit of hope, as they cut Roman Catholic’s lead to as little as 7, it ended up not being enough. Roman Catholic had knocked off the number 1 seed, and are set to play in the PCL Championship, in which they look to win their third straight championship.

Justice Williams led Roman Catholic with 25 points. Jalen Duren and Lynn Greer III each had 20 points. Xzayvier Jones had 12 points and Nasir Lett added 8. Rahsool Diggins led Archbishop Wood with 35 points, which broke a PCL Semifinal record that was set in 2017 by Villanova Point Guard, Collin Gillespie, who also played for Archbishop Wood. Marcus Randolph scored 15 points for the Vikings. Roman Catholic will play Neumann-Goretti in the PCL Championship on Monday, February 24th at 8:15 PM at the Palestra.