By BRIAN CUNNIFF
ABSECON — The Wildwood Catholic High School boys basketball team relied on its defense on opening night against Holy Spirit.
It’s a good thing, too, because offensively the Crusaders were far less than their best.
Wildwood Catholic held the Spartans scoreless for the first 4 minutes, 50 seconds, of the third quarter, turning an eight-point lead into a 17-point advantage at the close of the period, and eventually settled for a 56-38 victory in front of a capacity crowd in the Spartan gymnasium.
“We played so poorly on the offensive end of the floor that I can’t even consider what we did defensively right now,” Wildwood Catholic coach Dave DeWeese said.
Wildwood Catholic, ranked third in the state and first in South Jersey by various media polls, committed 16 turnovers and missed a variety of forced shots throughout the game.
“The kids haven’t bought into what we’re selling offensively,” DeWeese said. “They’re doing their own thing and it’s not working. We have to go back to the drawing board. We have a long way to go. We’re not there yet. Not even close.”
Still, Wildwood Catholic was dominant on the defensive end. The Crusaders blocked 12 shots and picked up nine steals as a team.
West Virginia signee Taj Thweatt, a 6-8 forward, nearly posted a triple-double, recording 20 points, nine rebounds and nine blocked shots for Wildwood Catholic. Teammate and Temple signee Jahlil White led all scorers with 22 points and also grabbed six rebounds.
Wildwood Catholic next plays Saturday at 7 p.m. against Notre Dame at the Ocean City PBA Tip-Off Tournament at Ocean City High School. The game will air live on 98.7 The Coast and CoastSportsToday.com.