By BRIAN CUNNIFF
ABSECON — The Wildwood Catholic High School boys basketball team lost its second straight close game against top-caliber competition.
Competing in the featured game of Day 2 of the Seagull Classic showcase event, the Crusaders fell, 49-45, to Elizabeth, the third-ranked team in the state, in front of a near-sellout crowd at Holy Spirit High School Saturday evening.
A basket off an offensive rebound by substitute forward Zyree Beverly broke a 43-43 tie with 58 seconds left and gave Elizabeth the lead for good.
After a Wildwood Catholic turnover, Jordan Price scored to up Elizabeth’s lead to 47-43. Taj Thweatt made a layup on an offensive rebound with 16 seconds left to pull the Crusaders within two with 16 seconds to go, but Elizabeth iced the game on the ensuing in-bounds pass by finding Watkins alone behind the Wildwood Catholic defense for a layup.
Watkins led Elizabeth (6-0), ranked third in the state, with 17 points. Jordan Price added 14 points and Jayden Pierre was also in double figures with 12 points for the winners.
Temple signee Jahlil White shot 7 for 10 from the floor and scored a game-high 20 points for Wildwood Catholic (4-2), which is ranked fifth in the state poll. Thweatt, a West Virginia signee, added nine points and 12 rebounds but shot just 3 for 14 from the floor.
Wildwood Catholic also lost a close game in its previous outing to Archbishop Wood, one of the top teams in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Wildwood Catholic is next in action on Monday against Middle Township in the Crusaders’ first home game of the season.