By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD – The Wildwood High School boys basketball team enjoyed a victory but also may have suffered a significant loss on Tuesday.
The Warriors rolled to an 87-67 victory over Clayton in a game that wasn’t even as close as the 20-point final margin to remain unbeaten in Tri-County Classic Division play entering Thursday’s massive division showdown with Salem.
But a pall was cast over the victory in the form of what appears to be a serious ankle injury to senior starting point guard Ernie Troiano, who went to the floor in the middle of the lane in the first half nd limped to the bench. He did not return and will almost certainly not play Thursday. He could be out much longer.
Troiano entered Tuesday’s game averaging 12.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
“We’re hoping for the best but it’s a big loss,” Wildwood coach Scott McCracken said. “He’s the leader of our team, a captain, and he really does everything for us. His toughness, what he gives us defensively, the way he runs the show for us … he’s really the coach on the floor that we need.”
Wildwood was never threatened against Clayton. The Warriors raced out to a 28-6 lead after the first quarter behind 12 opening-period points from sophomore Junior Hans, who went on to score a game-best 28 points.
Wildwood held a 49-21 lead at the half and led by as many as 32 points early in the fourth quarter. Clayton made the final score more respectable with a late surge against some of Wildwood’s deep substitutes.
Sophomore Lance Lillo came off the bench to add 12 points and senior Dom Troiano was also in double figures with 11 for Wildwood. Sophomores Jordan Fusik and Harley Buscham each chipped in eight. In all, 10 players scored for Wildwood (9-4 overall, 6-0 Tri-Co Classic).
Christian Durham scored 24 points for Clayton (4-9).
On Thursday, Wildwood isset to face a Salem team that had won nine straight games entering Tuesday’s play. The Rams, coached by former Middle Township coach Anthony Farmer, were 10-3 overall, 4-0 in division games, entering Tuesday.
“They’ve won nine in a row and they’re playing really well,” McCracken said of Salem. “They’re a big team with size and they can score. It’s certainly a big matchup for us. We’re going to need to play well and not turn the ball overall. The big key for us will be rebounding the basketball.”