By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD — Last season, the Wildwood High School girls basketball team had trouble with Buena before pulling away in the fourth quarter from Buena in an opening-round state playoff game at home.
This season, there were no such struggles.
The Lady Warriors, the top seed in the South Jersey Group I Tournament, ran out to leads of 8-0 and 19-6 en route to an easy 64-24 victory over the 16th-seeded Chiefs to advance in the tournament.
Wildwood will face No. 8 Gloucester in the second round Thursday. Gloucester was a 39-28 winner over No. 9 LEAP Academy in its tournament opener.
Wildwood (19-8) shot 9 for 14 from the floor in the opening quarter and raced out to a 25-10 lead at the close of the period. The Lady Warrior defense took over from there, limiting the Chiefs (10-16) to 14 points the rest of the way. Buena managed just three field goals in the second half.
Six different players scored for Wildwood in the opening quarter alone.
By game’s end, senior Maddie McCracken finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists and sophomore Jenna Hans added 14 points and four steals for Wildwood.
Junior Gabby Keoughan chipped in nine points and freshman Imene Fathi recorded eight.
Wildwood shot 23 for 44 from the floor (52.3 percent) for the game, while limiting Buena to a 10 for 33 effort. The Chiefs had 27 turnovers to Wildwood’s 11.
Wildwood faced its second-round opponent earlier this season, recording a 48-32 victory at Gloucester.
Thursday’s game will air live on 98.7 The Coast radio, with a live video stream available at CoastSportsToday.com.