GIRLS HOOPS PREVIEW: Crusaders expect to take the next step (with video)
December 13, 2018
BOYS HOOPS PREVIEW: Guard play will carry Warriors (with video)
December 13, 2018

GIRLS HOOPS PREVIEW: Tiny Wildwood team has big goals (with video)

Senior Maddie McCracken (left) and sophomores Jenna Hans (center) and Leah Benichou are returning starters for the Wildwood High School girls basketball team.


Mascot: Warriors

Conference: Tri-County Classic

Enrollment group: South Jersey Group I

2017-18 record: 20-8

Head coach: Teresa Cunniff (second season, 20-8)

Assistant coaches: Jim Clarke, Rich “Hey” Hans

Returning players: Senior – Maddie McCracken (5-8 G); junior – Gabby Keoughan (5-6 G/F); Sophomores – Leah Benichou (5-3 G), Jenna Hans (5-9 F).

Top newcomers: Sophomore – Laila Rios (5-6 F); Freshmen – Imene Fathi (5-2 G), Torence Gallo (5-3 G), Emily Little (6-0 F), Ava Troiano (5-6 G/F).

Strengths: Perimeter play, athleticism, improved depth

Weaknesses: Low numbers, interior scoring

Outlook: Coming off a 20-win season and a share of the Tri-County Classic Division title, Wildwood is hoping for a repeat of last season’s success. The team will lean on star guard Maddie McCracken, a four-year starter who averaged 23.4 points, 9.7 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game last season and enters the 2018-19 campaign with 1,359 career points. Sophomores Jenna Hans and Leah Benichou are also returning starters who have shown improvement. The team also expects a nice boost from talented freshman Imene Fathi. With just nine players, Wildwood is extremely low in numbers. But all nine of them are expected to see time in most games, so the depth has improved over recent seasons. Tri-County Conference realignment moved powerful Gloucester Catholic back into the Classic Division, so Wildwood will have a hard time repeating as division champion. But there’s no question the Lady Warriors could be in prime position to make a deep run in the South Jersey Group I playoffs.

Coach’s quote: “Obviously we have a very special player in Maddie but I also think we have a nice overall group around her, even though we only have nine players,” coach Teresa Cunniff said. “We have a good mix of returning players and some promising freshmen. We hope to be competitive with just about everyone we play. Our goal is to be playing our best basketball by the time the state tournament arrives.”

Season opener: Saturday vs. Cedar Creek (at Ocean City), 1:45 pm