By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD – The Wildwood High School boys basketball team played its season opener Friday.
The Warriors allowed 16 offensive rebounds, missed 10 free throws, committed 21 turnovers and saw its projected two best scorers make zero field goals combined.
But somehow, Wildwood won. And won rather comfortably.
Part of the reason why was because Alex Daniel, in his first high school game, carried the Warriors offensively. The freshman produced a game-high 17 points and Wildwood went on a game-changing run at the end of the second quarter on its way to a 49-40 victory over Penns Grove.
“I’ll take un ugly win,” Wildwood coach Scott McCracken said.
Trailing by a point with three minutes left in the second quarter, Wildwood went on a 9-0 spurt to close the half, the final two points coming on a layup by Anthony Freeman just ahead of the buzzer. That gave Wildwood an eight-point lead at the break, and Penns Grove got no closer than six points the rest of the way.
Junior Hans and Jordan Fusik, both expected to average in double figures this season, were held to a combined seven points. Neither had a field goal. Hans, in foul trouble the entire game, fouled out with four minutes to go.
“They tried to get us to go up and down with their pressure and we were sloppy with it,” McCracken said. “Junior and Jordan, those kids both struggled from the field in this game but they’re eventually going to make shots and we’ll be better off for it. What it did was, some other kids got some valuable experience. They stepped up and made some big shots.”
Ryan Troiano added nine points for Wildwood. Freeman scored six of his eight off the bench in the fourth quarter and also had six rebounds.
Wildwood did not start a senior in the game.
“Everyone did their part and that’s how it’s going to have to be with a young team,” McCracken said. “We’ll get better if we can clean some things up. We have a good chance to be a good basketball team if we do that.”
Wildwood plays Haddon Township Saturday at a showcase event at Cherokee High School.