Middle coach named regional award winner by Positive Coaching Alliance
February 9, 2021
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February 11, 2021

VIDEO: After slow start, Crusaders fly past Mainland behind big 2Q run


NORTH WILDWOOD — The Wildwood Catholic Academy girls basketball team primarily plays man-to-man defense.

However …

“We will do whatever it takes to put our team in position to win games,” Crusader coach Steve DiPatri said. “If that means playing man, we’ll play man. If that means playing zone, we’ll play zone. If that means playing junk, we’ll play junk. Whatever it takes.”

After trailing 14-9 after the first quarter against Mainland in a critical Cape-Atlantic East Division game, Wildwood Catholic abandoned its man-to-man defense in favor of an active 2-3 zone and almost immediately took control of the game. The Crusaders burst ahead behind a 17-3 run and never looked back, eventually posting a 55-39 victory.

In addition to its second quarter surge, Wildwood Catholic also began the second half on a 10-0 run to turn a 29-22 lead at the break into a 17-point cushion.

DiPatri called the team’s defensive effort over the final three quarters its best of the pandemic-shortened season to date.

“I felt like we stepped up our energy level after the first quarter,” he said. “We were picking off passes and we were making it really tough for them. It was clearly evident we became more aggressive defensively.”

Wildwood Catholic also broke through offensively over the second and third quarters. While Penn commit Marianna Papazoglou did her usual thing to the tune of a game-high 21 points, others also made significant contributions. Freshman Ella McCabe came off the bench to score five points and senior Alyia Gray-Rivera swished a three-pointer in the second quarter. Junior Kimmy Casiello scored six of her eight points in the third quarter. And sophomore Carly Murphy scored her nine points over the first three periods.

“We are getting contributions now across the roster,” DiPatri said. “The more we play, the more the season has gone on, those kids are stepping up. And that’s critical as we head down the stretch of the season.”
The victory improved the Crusaders to 5-1 and kept them within striking distance of Middle Township (6-0), which handed the Crusaders their only loss to date.

“Every win is a big win in this division,” DiPatri said. “There are a lot of great teams in this division and all the teams are well coached. We’re fortunate enough to play and even more fortunate to come up with a win.”

Wildwood Catholic’s Carly Murphy prepares to shoot a jump shot against Mainland.
Wildwood Catholic’s Marianna Papazoglou pushes the ball in transition against Mainland.
Wildwood Catholic’s Kimmy Casiello looks to pass against Mainland.