VIDEO, PHOTO GALLERY: Dedicated Lady Tigers get to enjoy taste of victory
February 26, 2020
Step a-Sides for Middle’s new scoring queen
February 27, 2020

VIDEO: Thweatt carries Crusaders to third straight CAL title game


GALLOWAY — Taj Thweatt made sure the Wildwood Catholic High School boys basketball team will play for a third straight Cape-Atlantic League championship.

Thweatt erupted for 25 points, many of which came on an array of acrobatic dunks, to lead the Crusaders to a 61-47 victory over St. Joseph in a league semifinal game Wednesday at Absegami High School.

Wildwood Catholic, the top seed in the tournament, will face No. 2 St. Augustine Prep Saturday at Richard Stockton University at 2 p.m. The game will air live on 98.7 The Coast radio, with live video available at the CoastSportsToday Facebook page.

Ahead by five points late early in the fourth quarter, Wildwood Catholic reeled off a 14-0 run to put the game away. Thweatt, a West Virginia recruit, began the run with a right-wing three-pointer, followed by another three-pointer by Martin Anguelov from the same area one possession later. Two layups by Jahlil White, one by Hopping and a dunk by Thweatt finished off the surge.

“I thought our effort and our defense was what got us the win,” Wildwood Catholic coach Dave DeWeese said. “I don’t think we played particularly well offensively but defensively I thought we played great at that end of the floor. And then our effort was just outstanding.”

Down seven at halftime, St. Joseph surged in the middle part of the third quarter to tie the game at 28-28 when Daniel Skillings sank three foul shots after being fouled on a three-point attempt. But Wildwood Catholic ended the period on a 9-1 spurt to take an eight-point lead into the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats’ Jordan Stafford opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer. But Wildwood Catholic promptly took control of the game with its 14-0 run.

The Crusaders (19-7), two-time defending CAL champs, employed zone defenses for the entire game to slow down St. Joseph (20-5).

“I don’t think they were ready for our matchup zone and I don’t think they were ready for our 1-3-1 (zone),” DeWeese said. “We made those nice runs at the end of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth through our defense. That created easy opportunities. We got quite a few runouts and that really turned the tide for us.”

Wildwood Catholic will face a St. Augustine Prep team for the title that it handled easily in January, winning 82-43. St. Augustine beat Mainland, 65-41, in Wednesday’s other semifinal.

“One of our goals this year was to go back (to the CAL title game),” DeWeese said. “We’ll be playing against a very good team that’s going to have a chip on their shoulder about what happened down in North Wildwood. We’re going to have to be at our best because what happened before doesn’t matter. We have to come ready to play Saturday afternoon.”

In addition to his game-high 25 points, Thweatt also had a game-best 12 points and two blocked shots. White, a Temple signee, added 12 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five steals and Jacob Hopping contributed 16 points.

Skillings led St. Joseph with 16 points.