By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD — The Wildwood Catholic High School girls basketball team performed the art of closing out a game brilliantly Friday evening.
The Crusaders held Lower Moreland (Pa.) to one field goal in the fourth quarter and outscored their opponent 16-6 in the period on their way to a 43-29 victory in the Big Al Nerenberg Memorial Girls Bracket championship game at the Boardwalk Basketball Classic.
Wildwood Catholic led, 17-9, after a low-scoring first half, but saw Lower Moreland (4-4) rally with a 12-4 run to tie the game at 21-21 following Riley Malone’s three-pointer with two minutes to go in the third quarter. But Wildwood Catholic responded with vigor, going on a 13-4 surge to go ahead by nine at 34-25 midway through the final period. Lower Moreland never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
“I thought we showed a lot of maturity coming back in that fourth quarter,” Wildwood Catholic coach Steve DiPatri said. “That’s such a good sign for such a young team.
“We played a good first half. We had some foul issues but we got through them OK, and we had a nice lead. They came back at us and tied the game up, but then we were able to show some resiliency and bounce right back. We settled down and got back into our stuff and took control of the game.”
Marianna Papazoglou posted 17 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, four blocked shots and four steals to lead the Crusaders (5-2). Gabby Turco scored an efficient game-high 18 points, shooting 5 for 8 from the field. She helped her point total by going 8 for 8 from the foul line.
DiPatri credited the perimeter defense of Alyia Gray-Rivera and Xiomara Walker for helping limit Lower Moreland to one fourth-quarter field goal.