By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD — Jacob Hopping tipped a pass at halfcourt, raced toward the sideline to retrieve the ball and flipped it over his head before falling out of bounds to teammate Jahlil White, who finished the play with a spectacular dunk.
The basket gave Wildwood Catholic a 42-29 lead over Marist in the fourth quarter in a game the Crusaders eventually won, 51-36.
“I’m hoping to get a video of that play from somewhere,” Hopping said with a smile.
White and Taj Thweatt, thanks to their multiple Division I college scholarship offers as juniors, are garnering loads of attention so far this season, and rightly so. But Hopping is quickly proving that he is emerging as a third junior star for the unbeaten Crusaders.
Hopping scored 16 points to go with eight rebounds, five assists and four steals in Saturday’s win, which was part of the Boardwalk Basketball Classic’s Battle at the Boards showcase day at the Wildwoods Convention Center.
“I’m trying to do what I can,” Hopping said. “If they’re taking a lot of the pressure (from defenses), I’m glad to try to take some of that pressure off them. If I start scoring it might get them more open and it all works out for us.”
Wildwood Catholic trailed, 21-18 at the half but went on a 21-5 run that spanned the entire third quarter and the first two minutes of the fourth to open a 39-26 lead with five minutes to go. Marist never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
Thweatt topped all scorers with 17 points. He also had three blocked shots. White added 13 points.
After making just 7-of-21 shots from the floor (33.3 percent) in the first half, the Crusaders made 11 of 19 (57.9 percent) in the second. Wildwood Catholic also turned the ball over only five times after intermission after doing so nine times in the opening half.
The Crusaders (5-0) are next in action Thursday at the Boardwalk Basketball Classic against Camden. The game will air live on 98.7 The Coast radio at 6:45 p.m.