The Wildwood High School boys basketball team lost the area's leading scorer from last season, but coach Scott McCracken expects his team to keep getting better.
McCracken took over a seven-win team in 2010. The Warriors won 11 games that first season, including an 8-6 finish to the season. They went 19-6 last year, earning the No. 2 seed in the South Jersey Group I playoffs.
So even though Wildwood has to replace Zak Barrett's 21.6 points per game, McCracken hopes to go one step further and win at least one playoff game this season.
"We're trying to turn the program around, and I think we've done a good job for two years," McCracken said.
"We have good kids in the program. … We're looking pretty good."
Two players who will be expected to step up in Barrett's absence are seniors Wesley Hills and Francis Christian.
Hills will miss some time for a football All-Star showcase later this month, but he has been practicing with the basketball team.
Christian will move from shooting guard to point guard.
"He sees the floor really well," McCracken said. "He's basically been a distributor for us, but he can score. … He makes the other kids around him better."
McCracken said he doesn't want to put too much pressure on Christian, though. He said Wildwood has plenty of scoring options.
Contact Jason Mazda:
League: Tri-County Conference Classic Division
Group: South Jersey Group I
Coach: Scott McCracken (30-16, two seasons)
2011-12 record: 19-6
2012-13 prediction: Contender - The Warriors lost Zak Barrett but still have plenty of good athletes.
Key players: Francis Christian, Sr., G, 6-0; Anthony Madle, Sr., G, 5-10; Wesley Hills, Sr., F, 6-3; Rich Ramagosa, Sr., F, 6-1; Matt Rucci, Sr., F, 6-0.
Top newcomers: Jose Valentin, Jr., F, 6-2; Mark Jones, Sr., G, 5-10; Kevin Holton, Sr., C, 6-4; Devonte Ogelsby, Jr., G/F, 6-3; Mike Veltri, Sr., G, 5-11; Kahlil Gittings, So., G/F, 6-1; David Flanders, So., G, 5-10; Trevor Gentek, So., G, 5-9.
Games to watch: Friday, Dec. 14 vs. Clayton (time TBA); 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22 vs. Wildwood Catholic at Wildwoods Convention Center; 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 28 vs. Pleasantville at Wildwoods Convention Center; 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 29 at Cape May Tech.
Dec. 14: vs. Clayton, 6
Dec. 20: vs. Glassboro, 6
Dec. 22: vs. Wildwood Catholic at Wildwoods Convention Center, 7:30
Dec. 28: vs. Pleasantville at Wildwoods Convention Center, 7
Dec. 29: vs. TBD at Wildwoods Convention Center, time TBA
Jan. 2: vs. Atlantic County Institute of Technology, 6
Jan. 4: vs. Gloucester City, 6
Jan. 8: vs. Pitman, 6
Jan. 10: at Salem, 5:30
Jan. 11: at Schalick, 6
Jan. 15: vs. Penns Grove, 6
Jan. 17: vs. Pennsville, 6
Jan. 18: vs. TBA at Jenkintown (Pa.), 7
Jan. 22: at Clayton, 7
Jan. 24: at Gloucester Catholic, 6
Jan. 26: vs. Middle Township, 6
Jan. 29: at Cape May Tech, 5:30
Jan. 31: at Gloucester City, 6
Feb. 2: vs. Camden County Tech, 1
Feb. 5: at Penns Grove, 4
Feb. 7: at Pitman, 6
Feb. 12: vs. Woodstown, 6
Feb. 15: vs. Salem, 6
Feb. 19: at Pennsville, 6
Feb. 21: at Lower Cape May Regional, 7
Feb. 23: at Deptford Township, 6