By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD — The Wildwood High School boys basketball team picked a great time to play perhaps its best games of the season.
With a division championship on the line, the Warriors dominated Gloucester Catholic Tuesday evening and eventually posted a 71-58 victory in a contest that wasn’t as close as the final score might indicate.
The victory, Wildwood’s 10th straight, gave the team its seventh Tri-County Classic Division title overall and its fourth in the past five seasons.
“I’m proud of the kids. They deserve this,” Wildwood coach Scott McCracken said. “I’m proud of our coaches. We work hard to try to put the kids in a position to win and the kids went out and executed. We have a few kids that can play. We’ve had a nice season so far.”
Wildwood improved to 10-1 overall, 9-0 in division games. The Warriors close out division play Thursday at Pennsville, a team they beat comfortably at home earlier this month.
Leading 16-12 after the first quarter, Wildwood enjoyed a 23-point second quarter and took a 39-29 lead at the half. The Warriors then started the third quarter with a steal and a basket by Diante Miles and a three-pointer by Seamus Fynes to up that advantage to 15 points. They never led by less than 12 points the rest of the way, eventually opening up a lead as large as 22 points in the fourth quarter.
Wildwood limited Gloucester Catholic star Ryan Roney to 13 points, although Roney left the game with seven minutes to play after sustaining a left leg injury. Roney entered the contest averaging nearly 26 points per game.
Wildwood’s Ernie Troiano IV and Miguel Claudio drew the assignment of guarding Roney.
“We did a good job on that kid. He’s really good, but Ernie and Miguel did an unbelievable job on him,” McCracken said. “We tried to get him to give it up and try to not allow him to get it back. He’s a heck of a player and he’s a big reason why that team’s good but our two kids did a great job on him.”
Fynes led all scorers with 21 points, despite not scoring in the fourth quarter. Omarian McNeal added 19 points and 15 rebounds, with nine of those boards coming on the offensive end. Diante Miles also scored 19 points, leaving him 44 points shy of 1,000 for his career.
Wildwood scored 44 points over the middle two quarters.
“We played our tempo and that was one of the biggest things we felt we needed to do,” McCraken said. “ They want to play in the halfcourt and we really didn’t. We wanted to push the ball and share the ball and we did a pretty good job of doing that.”
Wildwood, which joined the Tri-County Conference for the 2002-03 scholastic year, has also won Classic Division titles in 2004, 2012, 2017, 2018, 2020 and
Following Thursday’s game with Pennsville, Wildwood will participate in next week’s Tri-County Conference Tournament. The Warriors will be in the top eight-team pod.
“We want to see how we can do against some of these bigger schools,” McCracken said. “We’re looking forward to it.”