(Above video courtesy Mike Frankel/JerseySportsZone.com)
By BRIAN CUNNIFF
NORTH WILDWOOD — A game that was billed by many as a matchup between the two top high school boys basketball teams in the Cape-Atlantic League was over shortly after it started.
Thanks to torrid first-half shooting and outstanding defense, Wildwood Catholic trounced St. Augustine Prep, 82-43, to take firm hold of the race for the No. 1 seed for next month’s Cape-Atlantic League Tournament.
“Tonight was a great offensive performance,” Wildwood Catholic coach Dave DeWeese said. “We played very well together and we were sharing the ball. We did a lot of good things.”
Wildwood Catholic (12-2) blitzed the Hermits from the start, racing out to a 16-2 lead to start the game before leading 23-8 at the close of the first quarter. Senior forward Taj Thweatt scored 12 points and senior guard Jacob Hopping added eight points in the opening frame to lead Wildwood Catholic.
St. Augustine (10-3) put forth a mini run early in the second period to draw to within 11, but Wildwood Catholic finished the half on a 16-8 surge to lead 42-23 at the half.
The Crusaders shot 16 for 29 from the floor in the first half, including 7 for 12 on three-point tries.
Wildwood Catholic enjoyed a 23-point third quarter to turn the game into a rout. The Crusaders led 65-39 going into the final quarter.
Thweatt was outstanding, finishing with game highs of 30 points and 19 rebounds. And Hopping, who had struggled with his shot early in the season, broke out with 22 points. He made six three-pointers.
Jahlil White (12) and Martin Anguelov (11) also each finished in double figures.
“Jacob shot the lights out,” DeWeese said. “We have a lot of weapons. We’ve been saying all along that on any given night any one of these kids can step up and score a bunch of points. Jacob did that tonight.”
The victory was Wildwood Catholic’s eighth straight. More importantly, the team is beginning to grow toward playing to its potential after a somewhat inconsistent start to the season.
“We’ve been developing chemistry bit by bit and we’re seeing progress,” DeWeese said. “You don’t want to be great in December. You want to be great at the end of February and in March. The goal is to build this and get to that point. That’s why we schedule the teams we schedule. Sometimes taking your lumps once in a while is a good thing. It wakes kids up, it makes them work harder and it motivates them to get better. Fortunately that’s what we’ve seen happen lately.”
Matt Delaney led St. Augustine with 11 points.