By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD — After a poor performance in a season-opening two-point loss to Penns Grove earlier this week, the members of the Wildwood High School boys basketball team couldn’t wait to play another game.
A contest against Clayton on Thursday proved to be the perfect elixir for what ailed the Warriors in the opener.
Wildwood exploded for nearly 60 first-half points against the Clippers’ helter-skelter style of play en route to an easy 105-72 victory in its home opener.
“They play a unique style but we’re used to playing against it so we know what we’re going to get,” Wildwood coach Scott McCracken said. “If you can break their press and make the extra pass you can have success against them. We talked about sprinting back defensively and locating and then offensively we talked about making the extra pass and sharing the ball and we did a good job of that.”
Senior guard Diante Miles, held to four points in the opener after averaging 19 per game last season, exploded for 35 points for the Warriors (1-1). He shot a lights-out 14 for 18 from the floor, including 7 for 9 on three-point shots.
Miles was one of five Wildwood players in double figures. Omarian McNeal tallied 21 points and 13 rebounds; Seamus Fynes posted 15 points, 13 rebounds and six steals; Miguel Claudio netted 14 points; and Ernie Troiano IV chipped in 10 points.
Miles and Fynes were selected as the CoastSportsToday.com/98.7 The Coast Players of the Game.
Wildwood established a comfortable lead from the start, before blowing the game open with a 10-point flurry in less than a minute in the second quarter as Miles sandwiched a pair of three-pointers around consecutive monster dunks by McNeal. The Warriors held a 59-32 lead at the break.
A Miles basket with 4:15 to play in the fourth quarter put the Warriors over the century mark and gave them their largest lead of the game at 101-54.
One sour note from the game for Wildwood was its continuation of free-throw shooting woes. After making just 3 of 14 from the line in their opener, the Warriors shot only 2 for 14 on free throws against Clayton.
“It’s a huge concern,” McCracken said. “We’re playing four guards a lot of the time and you have to be able to make foul shots. We work on it every day but we’re not very good at it right now. We have to get better there.”
Wildwood is right back on the floor Friday with a road game at Glassboro.
“When we play well, we feel like we can compete against anyone we play,” McCracken said. “Now we have to go do it again tomorrow on the road. It won’t be easy.”