By BRIAN CUNNIFF
GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — Taj Thweatt did not enjoy the first half of Saturday’s Cape-Atlantic League championship game at Richard Stockton University.
The 6-7 junior forward was inadvertently elbowed in the mouth early in the first quarter. He later picked up his third foul with 2:39 to play in the second quarter and was forced to the bench for the remainder of the half.
But Thweatt vigorously responded to that adversity in the second half.
Thweatt scored 17 of his game-high 23 points after halftime, including 13 in the fourth quarter, as Wildwood Catholic repeated as CAL champions with a 64-53 victory over St. Augustine Prep in front of well over 1,000 fans.
Andrew Delaney’s basket in the paint gave St. Augustine a 46-45 lead with less than five minutes to play. But Thweatt knocked down a three-pointer on the Crusaders’ next possession to begin a 20-8 surge to close the game.
Thweatt hit another three-pointer with 2:40 to play that put the Crusaders ahead 56-51. St. Augustine got no closer as Wildwood Catholic went on to score the next eight points as well.
Thweatt shot 8 for 11 from the floor and 5 for 5 from the line for the game. He also added nine rebounds.
Jahlil White (14), Jacob Hopping (13) and DaSean Lopez (11) also each scored in double figures for Wildwood Catholic (25-1), which has won 20 straight games since its lone loss to Camden on Dec. 27.
Wildwood Catholic shot 12 for 21 from the floor in the second half (57.1 percent).
Cole Vanderslice led St. Augustine (21-4) with 15 points, all of them coming via five three-pointers. Delaney added 13 and Charles Solomon chipped in 10.
St. Augustine played in the CAL title game for the 15th time. The Hermits have won it 10 times, including three straight from 2015 through 2017.
The CAL championship is Wildwood Catholic’s fourth overall and third since 2014. The Crusaders are the only boys team to play in more than one CAL title game without a loss. The CAL title game was first held in 1992.