By BRIAN CUNNIFF
The Wildwood Catholic High School girls basketball team has crashed the Cape-Atlantic League playoff tournament’s Final Four.
For the second time in four seasons, the Crusaders won a quarterfinal game as a No. 6 seed, beating the No. 3 seed on the road. This time, it was a 48-47 decision over Atlantic City on Friday in a game that featured a wild finish.
Junior Gabby Turco sank a free throw with 0.6 seconds to play to break the tie and send the Crusaders (21-3) to the victory. Wildwood Catholic moves on to the tournament’s semifinal round, in which they’ll play second-seeded Ocean City on Thursday at 5 p.m. at St. Augustine Prep. Ocean City was a 49-36 winner over No. 7 Oakcrest in another quarterfinal.
Wildwood Catholic is the only sixth seed in CAL playoff tournament history to win an opening-round game. They’ve now done it twice, also beating Atlantic City in 2016.
“Our team is really young, so this is just amazing,” Wildwood Catholic sophomore Marianna Papazoglou said. “As soon as that last second went off the clock, I never jumped on someone before but I jumped right on coach Steve (DiPatri) because I was so excited.”
Papazoglou sank a pair of foul shots to tie the game at 47-47 in the waning seconds. Turco then came up with a loose ball and was fouled during a scrum. She made the front end of the one-and-one opportunity to give Wildwood Catholic the win.
Atlantic City (13-8) was the American Conference champion.
“We were 20-3 (going into the game) but this was kind of one of the first games we’ve had where we could prove we could beat a team that was that good,” Papazoglou said. “We definitely deserved that win. We played very, very well.”
Turco and Papazoglou each scored 15 points for Wildwood Catholic. Freshman Kimmy Casiello added eight points, all in the first half. Sophomore Aliyah Gray-Rivera also had eight points.
Wildwood Catholic held a 27-21 lead at the half before the Vikings rallied in the second half.
Sanai Macon netted 14 points for Atlantic City.