By BRIAN CUNNIFF
With so much offensive firepower on the wings and in the post, last winter’s dynamic Wildwood Catholic High School boys basketball team didn’t need another scorer at the point guard position.
Jake McGonigle filled that role brilliantly.
McGonigle, the team-first, pass-first and defend-always 6-1 senior floor general for the Crusaders, has committed to play college basketball at Division II Holy Family University next year.
“I went and visited and I liked it the best,” said McGonigle, who was also being wooed by Division III Gwynedd-Mercy University.
McGonigle averaged just 3.6 points for Wildwood Catholic in his only season as a starter last winter. But his presence on the floor was often a calming influence, particularly in big games, for the Crusaders. With McGonigle handling the lion’s share of the ball-handling duties, Wildwood Catholic won the Cape-Atlantic League playoff tournament for the second straight season and advanced to the South Jersey Non-Public B title game, in which the Crusaders came within a play or two of taking out heavily favored Ranney before losing in overtime. Wildwood Catholic finished 27-2, ending the season ranked fifth in the state.
Playing the competition “we played is going to help me a lot,” McGonigle said. “I got to play against a bunch of Division I and II guards all season long. That’s only going to help me.”
McGonigle was Wildwood Catholic’s lone senior starter last season. He’s the first from a talented team to commit to play in college. Forward Taj Thweatt and guard/forward Jahlil White, both juniors last season, have each received multiple Division I scholarship offers. Another junior from last season, guard Jacob Hopping, is also drawing attention from colleges of all levels.
McGonigle showed lots of patience and perseverance through his high school career. He waited his turn to be a major contributor for Wildwood Catholic, only becoming a varsity starter as a senior. Now, he’ll get the chance to play college basketball on a partial scholarship.
“I worked hard for it,” McGonigle said. “I know I have to keep working and keep going after it.”
McGonigle said he plans to major in accounting at Holy Family, which is located in Northeast Philadelphia.
Holy Family recently named a new head coach in Ryan Haigh. Haigh has been a longtime summer resident of the Wildwoods.
Holy Family finished 14-13 overall last season.