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VIDEO: Sophomore enjoys game of his life as Wildwood advances


WILDWOOD – Ryan Troiano was expected to do his best defensively against an extremely talented point guard when the Wildwood High School boys basketball team took on Palmyra in a South Jersey Group I quarterfinal Thursday.

He did that and much, much more.

Not only did Troiano spark the team’s best defensive effort of the season, but he also had the best game of his career offensively to carry Wildwood to a 60-48 victory in a game played before a spirited, near-sellout crowd in the Warrior gymnasium.

Troiano, who entered the game averaging 2.7 points per game, poured in a career-high 18 points to go with terrific on-the-ball defense on Palmyra star Chris McCarron. Troiano shot 7 for 9 from the floor, including 3 for 5 from three-point range. He had made seven three-pointers all season entering the contest.


“Ryan was the best player on the floor for us today,” Wildwood coach Scott McCracken said without hesitation. “It’s usually all about defense for him but he stepped up big time offensively. We’ve been waiting for him to have a game like this and he really stepped up on both sides of the floor and played a great game.”

Wildwood (17-10), the third seed in the tournament, controlled a good portion of the first half until a 12-2 Palmyra run put the No. 6 Panthers ahead at 22-19 late in the second quarter. But three-pointers by Troiano and Junior Hans and a tip-in off an offensive rebound at the buzzer by Troiano gave the Warriors a 24-19 lead at the break. Wildwood then scored the first 11 points of the third quarter as Hans, Dom Troiano and Ryan Troiano each hit three-pointers and Hans made two foul shots to extend the Warrior lead to 35-19.

Palmyra (14-10) did not quit, though. Three-pointers by McCarron on back-to-back possessions cut the Wildwood lead to 43-39 early in the fourth quarter. Palmyra eventually reduced its deficit to two at 50-48 with less than two minutes to play after a steal and dunk by Palmyra’s Kwinten Ives.

The Panthers, however, would not score again.

Just seconds after Ives’s dunk, Hans responded by scoring while being fouled. The ensuing free throw gave Wildwood a five-point lead at 53-48. Wildwood then forced turnovers on the next three Palmyra possessions to pull away in the final minute.

“That’s a huge play by Junior right there,” McCracken said. “We kept telling him to attack the rim and he saw he had a lane to the basket and he goes in and makes the bucket and the ‘and one.’ Probably the biggest basket of the game.”

Wildwood helped its cause immensely by making 11 of its last 12 free-throw attempts in the final period. The Warriors were 15 for 18 from the line overall for the game.

Hans led all scorers with 19 points. Ernie Troiano chipped in 15 points.

McCarron led Palmyra with 15 points. He scored eight of them on possessions during which Ryan Troiano was not guarding him. Ives added 15 points for the Panthers.

“I thought their team was tremendous,” McCracken said of Palmyra. “The McCarron kid is really, really good and No. 4 (Ives) is big and strong. For us, this was clearly our best defensive effort of the year.”

Wildwood next faces No. 2 seed Salem on the road Saturday with a berth in the South Jersey title game on the line. It’ll be the fourth meeting between the teams this season. Wildwood won once, on Salem’s floor.

“We’ll be ready to go,” McCracken said. “We’ll have a good game plan ready. We’ve won there before and we’ll see if we can do it again.”