By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD — The depth throughout the lineup of the Wildwood High School girls basketball team was put to the test Sunday afternoon at the Boardwalk Basketball Classic.
The Lady Warriors passed that test in winning a first-round thriller in the Kaitlin Anzelone Memorial Girls Bracket.
Wildwood placed three players in double figures and had various role players make key contributions as well in rallying to beat Merion Mercy Academy (Pa.), 61-56 in overtime.
Wildwood will play the Baldwin School (Pa.) in the bracket title game Monday at 5 p.m.
Wildwood scored baskets in the final seconds of three different periods, including regulation when Leah Benichou made just her second field goal of the game by making a baseline runner with 16 seconds to play in regulation to force overtime.
Wildwood (3-0) grabbed the lead for good just six seconds into the period when Winter Favre drove to the basket and scored while being fouled after collecting the opening tip.
Favre finished the game with a team-high 20 points and a game-high eight rebounds. She also made a 35-foot three-point shot at the buzzer of the first quarter and another three-pointer that tied the game with 1:52 remaining in regulation.
After a defensive stop following Favre’s overtime opener, Imene Fathi converted a beautiful reverse layup to extend the lead to four points. Fathi, the team’s point guard, finished with 15 points, five rebounds, three assists and zero turnovers while playing all 36 minutes.
Jenna Hans then took over the game over the last 2 ½ minutes. She made four consecutive free throws, grabbed two key rebounds and picked up a steal in the overtime session. She finished with 14 points.
Wildwood’s Ava Troiano made a 12-foot jump shot at the buzzer of the third quarter. And Gabby Keoughan contributed a key three-point play midway through the third quarter when she scored off an offensive rebound while being fouled. She made the ensuing free throw.
The Lady Warriors fell behind by as many as five points early in the fourth quarter before rallying. They held Merion Mercy to just two points over the final 2 ½ minutes of regulation.
Wildwood shot 8 for 22 from three-point range and turned the ball over just 10 times as a team.
Freshman Mary Kate Gray, a 5-11 center, shot 10 for 11 from the floor and scored a game-high 22 points for Merion Mercy (2-5).