By BRIAN CUNNIFF
Josh Wright could have reached a major milestone Monday evening.
The senior from the Cape May Tech boys basketball team poured in 28 points and led his team to a 58-56 victory over Bridgeton, the Hawks surviving two Bulldog shots that missed in the final 10 seconds.
But after celebrating the win with his teammates, Wright rued what could have been.
The 5-11 guard made only 4 of 11 free-throw attempts in the game. Had he made five more free throws, Wright would have become the first Cape May Tech player and only the sixth Cape May County high school boys basketball player to reach 2,000 career points.
He finished the game at 1,995 career points.
“It was a rough night,” Wright said with a self-deprecating smile. “I think I thought about (the milestone) too much and it took me out of my game.”
That Wright even had a chance to reach it in the final period was remarkable. Two early fouls forced him to the bench for most of a first quarter in which he scored just two points. He scored nine in the second quarter, but then had only four in the third. He then netted 13 in the fourth, all scored in the first six minutes of the period.
Wright will look to hit the milestone Wednesday against Absegami. The game was scheduled to be played on the road, but Cape May Tech athletic director Chuck Powell was working to get the contest moved to Cape May Tech so Wright could hit the milestone at home.
Although Wildwood’s Kyion Flanders (2,131 points) and Lower Cape May’s Pat Holden (2,103) both passed 2,000 career points last season as seniors, it’s still a very rare feat in these parts. The only others from Cape May County are 1994 Middle Township graduate LaMarr Greer (2,617), 1990 Middle Township graduate John Leahy (2,139) and 1988 Wildwood Catholic graduate Dan Leahy (2,030).
Wright has been a four-year starter at Cape May Tech, which improved to 5-3 with Monday’s win. He’s been a volume scorer his entire career despite being by far the biggest offensive weapon on his team.
Cape May Tech coach Josh Mercado took a team-first approach when asked about his player’s impending milestone.
“The obvious answer is that it’s an awesome milestone,” Mercado said. “But for me, I’m especially impressed with how we’ve increased our win totals every year he’s been here. We had seven his freshman year, then we had 12 and we made the (state) playoffs) and then we had 13 and we made the playoffs again, and in there were some really good wins over Wildwood Catholic and Middle (Township) and a comeback win against Wildwood.
“Josh getting 2,000 points is great, but what he’s been doing for the basketball community at this school … he’s brought it back to life. My first year it seemed like we had 20 people at our home games and 19 of them were parents. Josh comes here and all of a sudden our gym’s packed. A team like Wildwood Catholic comes in here and we’re packed because people are curious. Without Josh we don’t even have a chance to be in a game like that.”
Wright, who’s being recruited by a handful of colleges, posted 34 points and 17 rebounds in a win over Pennsville over the weekend.
Now, with the milestone in clear sight, Wright is allowing himself to think about it.
“It’s going to me so much to my father (Gerald) and me,” he said. “We’ve worked on this since I was really young. It’ll be special.
“It’s an incredible honor to be among the greats, like Pat Holden and Kyion and those other guys. It’s pretty special. I’m totally grateful.”
BASKETBALL SHORTS: Freshman Dylan Delvecchio added 17 points for Cape May Tech in the win over Bridgeton.