By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD — The fans were there for the spectacle.
The players from the Wildwood High School boys basketball team were there to strengthen their title hopes.
Playing against Clayton and its “tornado” style of basketball that features countless shots, numerous fast breaks and very little defense, Wildwood rolled to a 109-74 victory over the Clippers Tuesday.
While the fans were entertained by the frenetic pace, Wildwood’s players made sure to take care of business against a struggling opponent and position themselves as the frontrunner in the race for the Tri-County Classic Division title.
Wildwood improved to 11-6 overall, 5-1 in division play. The victory, coupled with Pitman’s loss to Gloucester Catholic, moved Wildwood into first place in the division. Wins in their final two division games, against Salem Feb. 11 and against Gloucester Catholic on Feb. 18, both at home, would give the Warriors their third division title in the last four seasons. Wildwood beat Salem and Gloucester Catholic on the road earlier this season.
“The kids are aware. They’re pretty aware of what’s going on across our league and especially what’s going on in our division,” Wildwood coach Scott McCracken said. “They know they have a chance to win it.”
Ahead 26-22 at the end of the opening quarter, Wildwood went on a 27-4 run to start the second period to blow the game open. The Warriors wound up outscoring Clayton 33-10 in the period.
“That was kind of where we sealed the game,” McCracken said. “I thought we were a little sloppy in the first quarter. But we covered the perimeter better and we made some shots in the second quarter. That kind of opened the game up for us.
“It’s always going to be a sloppy game against them because of the way they play. You know your defense isn’t always going to be great. So you have to keep your foot on the gas and keep trying to score. It’s a unique game.”
Diante Miles had no trouble scoring. The junior guard poured in a career-high 39 points, shooting an incredible 19 for 26 from the floor. Almost all of his field-goal attempts were layups.
Miles led four Wildwood players in double figures. Seamus Fynes sank 15 points, Karl Brown scored 14 points and Omarian McNeal added 13 points, four of which came on a pair of thunderous dunks.
Dom Troiano got the basket that sent the Warriors over the century mark on a layup with 3:15 to play.
Clayton (5-13) has allowed its opponent to score more than 100 points seven times this season.