By BRIAN CUNNIFF
The Wildwood Catholic High School girls basketball team has been busy posting victories over high-profile teams recently, so forgive Gabby Turco if thoughts of a personal milestone weren’t on her radar.
Wildwood Catholic took down state-ranked Red Bank Regional on Sunday at the ESPN 97.3 Girls Shootout at Ocean City High School Sunday, before picking up a crucial 51-49 Cape-Atlantic United Conference victory over Middle Township on Wednesday.
“We knew it was going to be a big week,” Turco said. “We just wanted to get a big win like the one we had on Sunday and then obviously I wanted that big win on Wednesday, too.”
But now that she’s had a brief chance to catch her breath, Turco finds herself 15 points from becoming the latest career 1,000-point scorer at Wildwood Catholic. She could hit the milestone at Saturday’s game against Atlantic City at the Battle by the Bay.
“I knew it was coming up but I really hadn’t thought about it until (Thursday) when Coach Steve (DiPatri) came up to me and said I was approaching it and that I only had 15 points left,” Turco said. “I knew I was in the proximity but I didn’t know I was that close.”
Turco is still somewhat new to Wildwood Catholic but at the same time has understood all that goes with playing sports at a Cape May County high school for quite some time through her parents. Turco played her first two high school seasons at Washington Township before her family moved to Cape May County during the summer prior to her junior year. Her father, Chris, is a Wildwood Catholic graduate, while her mother, Lucie, is a graduate of Wildwood.
Turco, a 5-10 wing forward, made an immediate impact in her first season with the Crusaders in 2018-19. She averaged 16.0 points and 7.2 rebounds while helping Wildwood Catholic to a 23-6 finish. Turco hasn’t missed a beat this season, taking averages of 16.5 points and 6.5 rebounds into Saturday’s game against Atlantic City.
She also, of course, hit the winning shot against Middle Township with 14 seconds left on Wednesday.
Saturday’s game against the Vikings is an important one. A victory would certainly add to the team’s resume as it fights for the top seed for next month’s Cape-Atlantic League Playoff Tournament.
So in other words, it’s just another outing in a stretch of big games, which, once again, puts Turco’s pursuit of a scoring milestone somewhat in the background.
“I kind of want to treat it as a normal game and not get out of my routine,” Turco said. “Hopefully it’s something that when it happens it’s just in the flow of the game. But it will definitely be a dream come true and I know it won’t seem real at first.”
At every practice and home game, Turco gets to see the long list of names on the 1,000-point banner that hangs in the southeast corner of the Sister Mary Ellen Ford Gymnasium.
She said eventually having her name placed on that banner will be special, especially since Crusader assistant coaches Katie Caruso and Caitlin McMullan and Turco’s personal basketball trainer, T. John Casiello, are all members of the club.
“It’s really cool to look up there and see their names after the support they’ve all given to me,” Turco said.
Turco is set to play college basketball at St. Anselm’s College, a traditional Division II power in New Hampshire. But with more than a month remaining in her high school career, Turco will attempt to help drive Wildwood Catholic to a CAL title and a deep run in the state playoffs.
“We’re doing well,” she said. “We’ve gotten off to a really good start. I think the way we’re working together this year and how we work so hard at practice is really paying off and I think it’s going to pay off at the end of the season, too.”