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Crusaders’ season abruptly concludes as NJSIAA cancels state title games

Wildwood Catholic seniors Jahlil Wite (left), Jacob Hopping (center) and Taj Thweatt end their careers as South Jersey champions after the NJSIAA canceled all state title games late Thursday evening.


The good news is that the Wildwood Catholic High School boys basketball team has finished its season with a victory.

The bad news is that the Crusaders didn’t get to end it with a victory in the state championship game.

In an anticipated move, given what has gone on in sports over the past 48 hours, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has canceled all state title games this weekend as it joins other sports organizations on multiple levels in suspending operations in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The NJSIAA issued the following statement late Thursday evening:

“The NJSIAA has canceled the remainder of the boys and girls basketball championships. The games will not be rescheduled.

“We have been making our decisions one day at a time, taking into account the best available guidance from the state health department and the CDC. Now, given the rapidly changing circumstances and uncertainties facing our member schools, our student-athletes, our host facilities, and many others, we no longer see a viable path to the completion of the Group Championships on Saturday and Sunday. 

“We understand that our decision will disappoint many, but believe it to be in the best interest of our student-athletes and all those involved with the games.”

Wildwood Catholic had won its first South Jersey Non-Public B title in 13 seasons on Wednesday behind an 80-67 victory over Rutgers Prep at Jackson Liberty High School. The Crusaders were scheduled to face North Jersey champ Roselle Catholic in the state title game this weekend.

Another Cape May County team, the Ocean City girls team, was also scheduled to play in a state title game this weekend after defeating Westampton Tech in a state semifinal game Thursday, just a few hours before the NJSIAA canceled the remainder of the tournament.

The NJSIAA’s decision ends the careers of all seniors whose teams were set to play this weekend, including Wildwood Catholic standouts Taj Thweatt, Jahlil White and Jacob Hopping.

Wildwood Catholic, among the best boys basketball teams in Cape May County history, finishes its season as a South Jersey champion and three-time Cape-Atlantic League playoff tournament champion. The Crusaders were 24-7 in 2019-20.