Jordan Robertson can sink a 3-pointer.
He can drive to the basket, spin and dunk the ball with two hands.
But as strange as it sounds for a player of his ability, what held the Wildwood Catholic High School senior back until this season was a lack of a confidence. Robertson too often was content to let his teammates take the big shot or make the big play.
But this season the 6-foot-4 Robertson found the belief in himself to emerge as one of South Jersey's top players. He averaged 18.7 points, led the Crusaders to the Cape-Atlantic League title and attracted the attention of NCAA Division I college coaches. Robertson is The Press Player of the Year.
"I needed to believe in myself that I could really do it," said Robertson, a Middle Township resident. "My coaches and my teammates believed I could do it. I had been a little unsure my whole career. I passed responsibility off to teammates. But this season I really had to step up. It's what I had to do."
There was no one moment that transformed Robertson. Rather he got better with each successful game he played. Robertson showed flashes of his ability as a sophomore and junior. But he lacked consistency.
"He's always physically been very talented," Wildwood Catholic coach Dave DeWeese said. "We always told him that he belonged at the highest level and the ceiling on his game was unlimited. He just had to get himself mentally to the place where he believed that as well."
Robertson wowed fans this season with a spin move that enabled him to drive for acrobatic layups against the most talented of teams. He used the move to score the winning points in a 49-46 win over Holy Spirit on Feb. 1
Robertson's signature moment of the season would also come against Holy Spirit, this time in the CAL tournament semifinals.
He sank a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left to give the Crusaders the lead for good and then clinched the 58-54 win with a two-handed dunk in the final seconds.
"The biggest games were where I felt the most confident this season," Robertson said. "One of my goals going in to the season was to not have any regrets and make sure everybody knew who I was."
And that is exactly what he did.
Team of the Year
Wildwood Catholic has a tradition of basketball success.
But few Wildwood Catholic teams – if any – accomplished what the Crusaders did this season.
Wildwood Catholic (23-5) finished No. 4 in The Press Elite 11 and as the highest ranked local team is The Press Team of the Season.
The Crusaders won their first CAL title since 1969 and their first since the league began its current championship game in 1992.
But more than that Wildwood Catholic beat the league's elite programs. The Crusaders defeated perennial powers Holy Spirit twice and Atlantic City.
In the past, Wildwood Catholic has had successful seasons but was always overshadowed by other CAL teams.
Not this season.
"This team reached a level that I don't think a team at Wildwood Catholic has reached before," DeWeese said. "This was a true team. Everybody knew their role."
Coach of the Year
The Mainland Regional boys basketball team won a total of 19 games the past three seasons.
The Mustangs seniors never played in a state tournament game before this season.
This season Mainland finished 18-11 and not only qualified for the state tournament but also reached the South Jersey Group III final.
Mustangs coach Dan Williams is The Press Coach of the Season.
"Everybody in the program bought in to what we were doing," Williams said.
The South Jersey final appearance was Mainland's first in 24 years. Crowds packed the Mustangs gym to watch state tournament games. Williams hopes the Mustangs can build on this year's success.
"They way the season went our guys are still really excited about basketball," Williams said. "People are already asking about what leagues we're going to be in for the summer. It wasn't that way last year. There's a different vibe and buzz with the guys."
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