By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD – Perhaps practice is overrated.
After going 10 days without a game or practice due to a pandemic-related shutdown, the Wildwood High School girls basketball team won games on back-to-back days to capture a championship at the Boardwalk Basketball Classic.
On Thursday, the Lady Warriors pulled away from a gritty Holy Spirit team, holding the Spartans without a point over the final four minutes, to post a 60-50 win in the Kaitlin Anzelone Memorial Girls Bracket title game.
Ahead 52-50, Wildwood went on to score all of its final eight points from the foul line. Senior guard Imene Fathi and senior forward Emily Little combined to go 8 for 10 from the foul line in the fourth quarter for the Lady Warriors (3-0).
Wildwood held the lead for most of the game but had to fend off multiple Spartan rallies. After falling behind by 12 at 37-25 early in the third quarter, Holy Spirit surged with a 15-4 run that brought the Spartans within a point at 41-40. A pair of Hanna Watson three-pointers helped spark the run.
But Wildwood scored the final seven points of the quarter to lead 48-40 going into the fourth quarter as freshman Macie McCracken hit a three-pointer and sophomore forward Sinaia Hills made a pair of layups.
Spirit again punched back, with Watson banging home two more three-pointers to fuel a 10-4 spurt before Wildwood iced the game with strong late-game defense and precision shooting from the foul line.
Wildwood had three players in double figures. McCracken sank 19 points, Fathi added 16 points and Hills chipped in 11 off the bench.
Watson (19 points) and Sabrina Little (16 points) led Holy Spirit (2-2).
The bracket is named after former Wildwood three-sport standout Kaitlin Anzelone, who passed away at age 20 after a bout with leukemia. Anzelone was a key player on the three-time state champion and four-time South Jersey champion Wildwood girls basketball teams from 2000 through 2003.