By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD – The Wildwood Catholic Academy girls basketball team had eight players in uniform for Wednesday evening’s bracket championship game at the Boardwalk Basketball Classic, due to COVID-related quarantines.
Three sophomores were in the starting lineup. The three substitute players were freshmen.
The disadvantage in manpower didn’t equate to a disadvantage in production, however.
Wildwood Catholic had all five of its starters score at least eight points and overcame a 29-point performance by Alexis Davis, one of the true stars of South Jersey girls basketball, to post a 56-42 win over Woodbury in the Big Al Nerenberg Memorial Girls Bracket title game.
“Obviously to be a great team you have to have balance, you have to have a lot of contributors and everyone has to play their role and I think everyone really did a good job in that regard,” Wildwood Catholic coach Steve DiPatri said. “Everyone did what they’re capable of doing to help us be successful tonight.”
Wildwood Catholic opened a lead as large as 14 points in the second quarter and led 27-15 at the half. The Crusaders held Davis, a 5-10 junior guard/forward, to nine first-half points.
Davis erupted for 20 points after the break, but Wildwood Catholic continued to score on an array of drives to the basket or open outside shots to keep the Herd at a distance. Woodbury (3-1) got no closer than eight points in the second half.
“I thought we did a great job on Davis in the first half but she started to heat up at the end of the second quarter and then she became really special in the third and fourth quarters,” DiPatri said.
But while Davis put her team on her back in an effort to keep Woodbury in the game, Wildwood Catholic spread their production across its starting lineup.
Sophomore forward Ava Vogdes led the Crusaders with 15 points, getting 11 of them in the second half. Another sophomore forward, Ella McCabe, added 12 points, senior point guard Kimmy Casiello sank 11 points and junior guard/forward Carly Murphy chipped in 10 points. Sophomore guard Kaci Mikulski came one basket shy of double figures with eight points.
Wildwood Catholic (5-1) will play one more game at the Boardwalk Classic, a showcase game against Clearview on Friday.
“We’re starting to grow and we’re starting to realize what it’s going to take to win big games and tonight was evident of that,” DiPatri said. “We’re going to have to continue to do that.”