By BRIAN CUNNIFF
NORTH WILDWOOD — A pair of significant accomplishments occurred in the Sister Mary Ellen Ford Gymnasium at Wildwood Catholic High School Friday evening.
For starters, Marianna Papazoglou became the first sophomore in school history to surpass 1,000 career points. Secondly, Papazoglou and her Crusader teammates became the first team in the traditional South Jersey area to beat Gill St. Bernard’s in a state playoff game.
Led by a combined 51 points from Papazoglou and junior Gabby Turco, the Crusaders, seeded fourth in the South Jersey Non-Public B Tournament, posted a 59-49 victory to advance to the sectional semifinal round.
Wildwood Catholic will play at top-seeded Trenton Catholic Monday.
Trailing by a point at the close of the first quarter, Wildwood Catholic (23-5) outscored No. 5 GSB 19-7 in the second quarter to take the lead for good. Included in the run was Papazoglou’s milestone basket, a layup in the lane just to the left of the rim. She and Turco also combined to make four three-pointers in the period.
Wildwood Catholic eventually swelled its lead to as many as 15 points early in the fourth quarter before GSB (13-12) cut its deficit to seven points with a little more than two minutes remaining. But Papazoglou and Turco combined to make all nine of their free-throw attempts in the final quarter and Kimmy Casiello, Alyia Gray-Rivera and Lauren McCallion helped adeptly handle the ball to hold GSB away.
Papazoglou finished with a game-high 29 points, while Turco netted 22.
Caileigh Walsh, a 6-3 sophomore, scored 16 points to lead GSB. But she also went long stretches without getting the ball as Wildwood Catholic’s defense pressured its opponent into numerous turnovers. GSB had nine turnovers in the second quarter alone.