By BRIAN CUNNIFF
ATLANTIC CITY — Taj Thweatt and Jahlil White have been responsible for a lot of the Wildwood Catholic High School boys basketball team’s success this season. But it was their teammates — especially Jacob Hopping — who made the biggest plays late in a 49-47 victory over Paterson Kennedy at the Battle by The Bay showcase event at Atlantic City High School on Saturday.
Hopping finished a baseline drive with a layup for the winning basket with 1.6 seconds to go as the Crusaders (18-1) completed a comeback from a nine-point third-quarter deficit.
Hopping also hit two free throws to tie the game with 1:16 to go.
Following Hopping’s free throws, Paterson Kennedy (10-6) attempted to hold the ball for more than a minute for a final shot, but turned the ball over with 10 seconds left.
After a timeout, Hopping received a pass in the left corner and looked into the post but Thweatt was well guarded. So the 6-3 junior guard drove to the basket himself and connected for the winning shot.
DaSean Lopez and Jake McGonigle each hit three-pointers earlier in the period to give Wildwood Catholic brief leads, only to see Paterson Kennedy answer each time.
Wildwood Catholic trailed 37-28 midway through the third quarter but closed the period on an 11-2 run to tie the game at 39-39.
The fourth quarter was close throughout and featured four lead changes.
Hopping made sure Wildwood Catholic had it at the finish.
White posted 16 points and three steals, Hopping added 12 points and four steals and Thweatt posted 11 points, eight rebounds and two blocked shots.
Deishon Harrison tallied 13 points for Paterson Kennedy.