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Wood girls stay unbeaten in PCL play


Archbishop Wood did not take the floor on Friday in Warminster with a true big.

It didn’t matter.

In a matchup of the final two unbeaten teams in Philadelphia Catholic League play, the host Vikings remained unblemished in their wire-to-wire 66-49 win over Neumann-Goretti. The Saints fell to 12-3 (4-1 PCL).

“These girls are probably the most athletic and quickest in the PCL,” praised Wood junior Emily Knouse. “We had to make sure we were sliding in help defense, trying to give them space and stay straight up. Alexa (Windish) did a great job. She leads the team in taking charges.”

“We needed to slide to help, execute on offense and calm down,” senior Windish added. “They are such a fast team that we can’t let that control what we’re doing.”

Windish scored the game’s first five points; Knouse and Makayla Finnegan combined for the second quarter’s opening six points that put Wood up 18-9. N-G closed it to 18-13 but Wood responded with a 14-0 run that shutout the Saints for nearly five minutes. Finnegan hit a three and layup, and Windish closed the run with two buckets to give Wood a 32-13 lead.

Wood out-rebounded N-G 20 to 11 in the first half. N-G “has a lot of quick guards. It was our job to get the rebound and push the ball,” said Windish, a Kutztown-signee. “They are good at fast breaking. We wanted to do our best to bring the ball down, run some offense, take our time and execute on offense. That was the most important part of today.”

The Vikings turned it over just three times in the first half. “Our point guard Ava (Renninger) does a great job handling the ball and handling the pressure,” Knouse noted. “Coach Mike (McDonald) definitely makes it a point to take care of the ball. We don’t have the big girl we can just lob it up to. We have to be precise with our passes.”

N-G cut the lead to 37-24 on Ikera Ellison’s basket with 3:08 in the third. They were N-G’s first bench points whereas a deeper Wood, led by Finnegan’s seven, got 13 from their reserves. The depth paid extra dividends as two Wood starters eventually got in foul trouble.

Windish and Lauren Greer retorted with layups while Knouse drained a three to give Wood a 44-24 lead, its high water mark.

Knouse, who had a double-double, again produced a 20-point lead when her three-point play put Wood up 56-36 with three minutes remaining.

Knouse’s 19 and Renninger’s 18 points led Wood. Windish added 11. N-G’s Carryn Easley was the game-high scorer with 23 points.

The Vikings faced their stiffest league test on Jan. 20; Archbishop Carroll had a 46-35 lead with 3:46 left to play before Wood roared back and scored the final 16 points. Three days later, Wood avenged its PCL final upset loss last season to Lansdale Catholic with a 70-52 win behind Knouse’s 34.

Wood (14-5) improved to 8-0 in PCL play on Tuesday night with a 65-43 crusie over West Catholic in Warminster. The defending 5A state champions – and the 4A state champions in 2021 and 2022 – the Vikings are seeking their first Catholic League crown since 2021.

Both Knouse and Windish pointed to ball movement as an area that Wood has improved on while the season has progressed. “Ball movement is something we wanted to work on as a team. Our team bonding is really important right now as well,” Windish stated. “Moving forward, we’re going to try and keep the same energy and hopefully stay undefeated in the rest of the season.”

“Moving the ball, where everyone gets a touch, is something we’ve been improving,” Knouse echoed. “We’ve had some early losses and weekend losses to tough teams. We weren’t moving the ball as well as we could. I think we stepped it up, especially in PCL play.”

Junior Knouse – a forward who can drain threes – has already committed to St. Joe’s. Renninger, another sniper, will play next year at Fairleigh Dickinson. Defensive standout Windish, multi-sport athlete Greer and a high ceiling sophomore in Sophia Topakas rounded out Wood’s starting five.

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