Carl Arrigale and John Mosco grew up about 15 blocks from each other in South Philadelphia. Arrigale lived near 29th and McKean, Mosco near 17th and Morris.
The two played on different CYO basketball teams, Arrigale for King of Peace and Mosco for St. Thomas Aquinas. "He was a little bit better, but he shot more than me," Mosco said with a laugh.
Arrigale went on to play at Penn Charter (class of 1984). Mosco attended nearby St. John Neumann (1983).
The two joined forces when Arrigale was hired as St. John Neumann's boss in 1998 after spending the previous five seasons as a Pirates assistant. Mosco, who was the JV program's head coach, stayed on as one of his assistants.
With Mosco as Arrigale's righthand man, the school, which merged with St. Maria Goretti in 2004, won nine Catholic League titles from 2001 to 2013. Mosco then left 10th and Moore to take over at Archbishop Wood.
"He was dedicated, had a passion for the game, handled a lot of the details for us, and we worked well together," Arrigale said. "But I was happy for him that he got a head-coaching opportunity."
Now, for the first time, the two will match wits in the Catholic League championship game. Neumann-Goretti (18-6) will square off against Wood (21-3) at 8 p.m. Monday at the Palestra.
"I'm happy for John, that he was able to get his team where he wanted to get them," Arrigale said. "It's a shame that one of us is going to have to lose Monday."
Mosco and Arrigale remain close friends. "We talk by phone at least two times a week," Arrigale said. "Some weeks, we'll talk every day."
Arrigale has a 3-1 advantage in the head-to-head series. The Saints won the first three regular-season meetings. Last month, the Vikings prevailed, 82-73, before an overflow crowd at Archbishop Ryan.
How much did it mean to Mosco to beat his former mentor?
"It was just another win," he said. "It was a January game. I don't know how I will feel Monday night, if we're fortunate enough to win the championship."
Like Arrigale does at N-G, Mosco tries to toughen his players with a challenging nonleague slate. Two of Wood's three losses came against Washington's Gonzaga and Sidwell Friends in the Gonzaga DC Classic in December.
"It's about the kids getting better and having them ready for the playoffs in February and March," Mosco said.
N-G is spurred by Quade Green, a Kentucky recruit averaging 21.9 points. Wood has a similarly dynamic guard in Collin Gillespie, a Villanova recruit averaging 22.6 points. Gillespie poured in 42 points and Green had 30 in the Jan. 26 clash.
"This is not rocket science," Arrigale said. "It's a basketball game between high school kids. Whichever team plays the best is going to win."
Regardless of the outcome, both coaches say the bond they have forged over the last two decades will remain strong.
"He wants to beat me, and I want to beat him," Mosco said. "But at the end of the day, we're still friends."
Monday, 8 p.m. at the Palestra'
Radio: WPHT-AM (1210). The girls' final between Cardinal O'Hara and Archbishop Wood will air at 6:30 p.m.
Records: N-G, 18-6 (seven-game winning streak); Wood, 21-3 (15-game winning streak).
History: N-G is trying for its 11th league title since 2001 and 21st overall. Wood is making its first title-game appearance.
About N-G: Quade Green, a terrific penetrator and finisher, is averaging 21.9 points and 7.7 assists. The Kentucky recruit has drilled 45 three-pointers in 21
appearances. … Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree, a 6-foot-8 forward who is ticketed for Villanova, averages 17 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 3.8 blocked shots. … Cosby-Roundtree is joined in the frontcourt by 6-9 Marcus Littles and 6-4 Mike Millsip.…Noah Warren, who starts in the backcourt with Green, is a three-point threat.
About Wood: Collin Gillespie, the Catholic League's most valuable player, has been sensational. The Villanova recruit is averaging 22.6 points and has buried 58 three-pointers. Like Green, he's dangerous when attacking the rim and shooting
from the perimeter … Tyree Pickron (48) and Matt Cerruti (41) have combined for 89 treys. Fellow guards Keith Otto and Andrew Funk, who has scholarship offers from Lafayette and Rider, are also threats from beyond the arc. … Seth Pinkney, a 6-11 center, and 6-7 forward Karrington Wallace will do their best to keep Cosby-Roundtree from thriving inside.
Keys for N-G to win: The Saints have to get out and aggressively defend Gillespie and company on three-point shots. The Vikings nailed 13 treys in the first go-around. … Green, Dymir Montague, and Christian Ings need to shoot well from downtown.
Keys for Wood to win: Gillespie gets good looks at the basket and he regularly visits the foul line. … Stop Green from getting into the lane and draining pull-up
jumpers. … Quickly get back on defense and keep Green and company from scoring on run-outs.