By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD — The Wildwood Catholic High School girls basketball team played a game that resembled a boxing match Monday evening at the Boardwalk Basketball Classic.
The Crusaders won it by TKO.
In an extremely physical contest, the Crusaders pulled away from Friends Central (Pa.), 42-27, to win the Genny Farnan-Robinson Memorial Girls Bracket championship game.
Wildwood Catholic (6-0) held Friends Central to only two points over the first 6 ½ minutes of the second quarter to turn a four-point lead into an advantage as high as 13 points in the period. The Crusaders never led by less than eight points the rest of the way.
There were a handful of dust-ups between players during the game. Two players had to be separated late in the second quarter after coming face to face after a jump ball. Some of the fouls committed in the game were on the overly aggressive end.
But Wildwood Catholic remained much more composed than its opponent, particularly in the second half. The Crusaders ran their spread offense effectively, making Friends Central (10-3) chase a game it had little chance to catch.
“You want to play tough games and you want to play good teams, especially a team with the kind of athletes Friends Central had,” Wildwood Catholic coach Steve DiPatri. “I thought our discipline and our composure tilted the game in our favor.”
Marianna Papazoglou scored 15 points, collected nine rebounds and picked up three steals to lead Wildwood Catholic. Gabby Turco added 11 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. And Kimmy Casiello added nine points and just one turnover while playing all 32 minutes.
Wildwood Catholic also limited Friends Central’s Madison Smith to one point and four rebounds, one day after she posted 19 points and 20 rebounds in the bracket opener.
The bracket is named for Farnan-Robinson, a 2005 graduate who scored 1,025 career points for the Crusaders. She passed away at age 29 in 2016 after a two-year battle with brain cancer.
“We know how much this means,” Casiello said. “We know Genny was a really good player and a 1,000-point scorer and we know that winning this means a lot to our community.”
Wildwood Catholic exits the holiday break at 6-0.
“We’re happy with where we are,” DiPatri said. “We just want to continue to get better every day. We’ll get back in the gym after the New Year and get ready for our conference games coming up in January.”