WILDWOOD - The St. Joseph High School girls basketball team might not score many points, but it doesn't need to.
The Wildcats have a swarming defense that makes it difficult for opponents to get shots off. Egg Harbor Township felt the pressure of that defense in the Ocean Cup final at the Boardwalk Basketball Classic at Wildwoods Convention Center on Thursday.
St. Joe didn't let the Eagles score much in the Wildcats' 32-20 win.
"We pride ourselves on our defense," St. Joseph coach Dan MeGettigan said. "I like to see us be a little more deliberate on offense. I want them to wait and take good shots. That's going to make for low-scoring games."
EHT (2-2) had just six points at halftime, but the Wildcats (3-0) didn't put the Eagles away yet because St. Joe had just an eight-point lead at 14-6. It wasn't until St. Joe began a methodical approach to its offense that the Wildcats finally found some room.
They led 24-11 heading into the fourth quarter.
In the first half, St. Joseph shot 28.6 percent (6-for-21) from the court. But the Wildcats raised their shooting mark to 46.2 percent (6-for-13) in the second half.
On the other end, the Wildcats held EHT to just 20.5 percent (8-for-39) shooting for the entire game. The Eagles never found a rhythm and resorted to attempting 3-pointers late in the game.
"Our defense helps us stay in a rhythm," said St. Joe's Molly Spadaro, a senior from Gloucester County, who had eight points. "We just like to run our offense through and take good shots. We don't need to do anything fancy."
A team that gets to 30 points will be the first to reach that mark against St. Joe this season. The Wildcats have held opponents to an average of 21.7 points in three games.
Most of the St. Joe offense has come from junior forward Jade Howard, who averaged 11.4 points and 10.4 rebounds last season. She had 16 points and six rebounds against EHT.
"We do things a lot better when we keep the ball at a slow pace," Howard said. "When we try to go fast, things get hectic and we get sloppy. So, we like to keep the game at our pace."
This season is especially important to Howard, a Winslow Township resident. She says the Wildcats have what it takes to win a championship. Her inside presence can make that possible.
"I have been mentally preparing myself more for this season," Howard said. "I go out there and think about what I have to do and make sure I do all the basic things right. We plan to accomplish big things this season."
Contact Susan Lulgjuraj:
St. Joseph 6 8 10 8-32
Egg Harbor Township 4 2 5 9-20
SJ-Spadaro 3 2-7 8, Tonia 1 0-2 2, Senese 2 0-0 4, Howard 5 6-9 16, Henry 1 0-0 2. Totals-12 8-18 32.
EHT-DiDomenico 1 0-0 2, K. Phillips 1 0-0 2, Scheiter 1 0-0 2, Chikezie 1 0-0 2, Santiago 3 3-5 9. Totals-8 3-5 20.
Records-St. Joseph 3-0, EHT 2-2.