By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD – It’ll certainly get more difficult from here for the Wildwood High School basketball teams.
Both Warrior teams weren’t seriously challenged in their South Jersey Group I openers at home Tuesday, the girls rolling past Buena, 68-16, and the boys doubling up Salem Tech, 90-45.
The girls team, the top seed in the South Jersey Group I Tournament, gave up a basket on Buena’s first possession of the game, then prevented the Lady Chiefs from scoring for the next nearly 11 minutes of game as Wildwood built an insurmountable lead.
No. 16 Buena (5-17) was limited to only five field goals for the game.
Wildwood placed three players in double figures and had 10 players score points. Senior guard Imene Fathi posted 19 points, six rebounds, seven assists and three steals and freshman guard Macie McCracken added 15 points and five steals. In addition, senior forward Emily Little contributed 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting and added five rebounds, three steals and three blocked shots.
The win gave Wildwood (20-4) its fifth 20-win season in the last six years, although even that accomplishment deserves as asterisk considering the team played just 15 games last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wildwood will host No. 8 Riverside in the next round on Thursday at 5 p.m. The game will air live on 98.7 The Coast and CoastSportsToday.com. Riverside was a 33-32 winner over Clayton in its tournament opener.
In the boys game, the third-seeded Warriors scored the game’s first seven points and led 20-7 after the first quarter and 43-14 at the half over Salem Tech.
Led by senior guard Ernie Troiano, Wildwood shot 35 for 67 from the field (52.2 percent), including 13 for 32 (40.6 percent) from three-point range. Troiano was 9 for 13 from the floor, including 4 of 6 on three-point attempts, en route to a game-high 22 points.
Troiano was one of four Wildwood players in double figures. He was joined by Junior Hans (16 points), Harley Buscham (11 points) and Jordan Fusik (10 points). In addition, Dom Troiano added nine points and Josh Vallese chipped in eight points and eight rebounds.
Wildwood (16-10) will host No. 6 Palmyra in the next round Thursday at 7 p.m. That game will also air live on 98.7 The Coast and CoastSportsToday.com.
Palmyra was a 65-50 winner over Woodstown in its playoff opener.