By BRIAN CUNNIFF
The Clayton High School basketball team plays what it calls a “tornado” style of basketball.
Wildwood hit the Clippers with an F5 — the most violent of the kind — on Thursday.
The Warriors set a new program record for points scored in a game in blitzing Clayton, 118-97, in a rematch of last season’s South Jersey Group I title game won by the Clippers.
Clayton plays an extremely up-tempo style that often leads to a lot of points. The Clippers press at all times, shoot early and often when they have the ball and substitute frequently in an effort to keep their players fresh. The style works against some of Clayton’s competition, which usually includes smaller schools without much depth.
But Wildwood does have a bit of depth this season and was ready for the challenge on Thursday.
The Warriors led virtually from start to finish. After winning the first quarter, 28-22, they forged a 26-18 edge in the second quarter to take a 54-40 halftime lead. Wildwood then exploded for 64 points in the second half, scoring 31 in the third quarter and 33 in the fourth.
Senior forward Karl Brown scored a career-high 31 points to lead Wildwood, shooting 15 for 21 from the floor. He flirted with a triple-double, adding eight rebounds and eight assists.
Omarian McNeal and Diante Miles each added 25 points, with McNeal also getting 13 rebounds and Miles grabbing nine.
Max McGrath also came close to a triple-double, chipping in 11 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. And Seamus Fynes was also in double figures with 12 points.
Wildwood shot 53 for 93 from the floor (57 percent).
The victory was Wildwood’s third in four games. The Warriors are 5-3.
Wildwood has eclipsed 100 points on a few occasions. While a member of the Cape-Atlantic League, Wildwood lost to Pleasantville, 121-106, in the late 1990s in what was then the highest-scoring game in CAL history. In the mid 2000s, the Warriors scored 104 points in an overtime game at Bridgeton. And they’ve gone over 100 a few times in games against Clayton over the past decade or so. But they’ve never scored even as many as 110 before.
Wildwood played at Clayton in last season’s South Jersey Group I title game, losing by a point after reaching the final as a No. 14 seed.