BOYS HOOPS PREVIEW: Crusaders striving for repeat of last season’s success (with video)
December 13, 2018
GIRLS HOOPS PREVIEW: Tiny Wildwood team has big goals (with video)
December 13, 2018

GIRLS HOOPS PREVIEW: Crusaders expect to take the next step (with video)

Junior Marianna Papazoglou (left), senior Erin Connelly (center) and junior Gabby Turco lead a talented Wildwood Catholic girls basketball team into the new season.


Mascot: Crusaders

Conference: Cape-Atlantic United

Enrollment group: South Jersey Non-Public B

2017-18 record: 15-11

Head coach: Steve DiPatri (6th season at WCHS, also coached 16 seasons at Sacred Heart; 451-125 career)

Assistant coaches: Katie Caruso, Fran St. John

Returning players: Seniors – Erin Connelly (5-5 G), Jiana Fields (5-6 F); Juniors – Caitlin Beaulieu (5-8 F); Sophomores – Alyia Gray-Rivera (5-2 G), Riley Kane (5-4 G), Lauren McCallion (5-9 F), Marianna Papazoglou (5-10 F).

Top newcomers: Junior – Gabby Turco (5-9 G/F); Sophomore – Shaniya Mann (5-5 F); Freshmen – Kimmy Casiello (5-3 G), Xiomara Walker (5-6 G).

Strengths: Perimeter play, experience, versatility

Weaknesses: Size in post, depth

Outlook: After a solid season with a very young roster a year ago, the Crusaders appeared poised to take the next step. Wildwood Catholic certainly has star power in sophomore do-it-all forward Marianna Papazoglou, a double- and sometimes triple-double machine who averaged 19.3 points, 10.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists as a debutant last season. She’s already considered one of the top players in South Jersey.  Washington Township junior transfer Gabby Turco is also a potential star who adds another dynamic scoring option and a lot of toughness to the lineup. Point guard Aliya Gray-Rivera, shooting guard Erin Connelly and forward Lauren McCallion join Papazoglou as returning starters. With more experience and increased depth from last season, Wildwood Catholic figures to battle Middle Township for CAL United Conference supremacy and should be in good position to make runs in both the CAL playoff and South Jersey Non-Public B tournaments.

Coach’s quote: “You always want to get better every day and that’s the No. 1 goal for us,” Wildwood Catholic coach Steve DiPatri said. “We’ve upped our schedule this year. We’ve done well in our scrimmages so we’re seeing results so far in the preseason. We have pretty much the same group, with some added depth, and we’re a year older and we have a talented transfer. We expect to be in the hunt.”

Season opener: Friday at Cedar Creek, 5:30 pm