Cal Boys Basketball Semi-finals

Wildwood Catholic's Kevin McWade #1, left drives to the basket against Holy Spirit's Junior Saintel #11,right during Cal Boys Basketball game Semi-finals at Hammonton High School Thursday, Feb 27, 2014.

Edward Lea

Katie McCallion knows what she wants to see when she walks into the Richard Stockton College gym today.

"I hope the whole place is covered in blue," the Wildwood Catholic High School senior basketball player said.

The Crusaders boys and girls teams will play for Cape-Atlantic League titles at Stockton Sports Center today. The fourth-seeded girls (20-5) will meet second-seeded Middle Township (20-5) at noon. The fourth-seeded boys (21-4) will face two-time defending CAL champion and third-seeded Atlantic City (18-6) at 2 p.m.

Latest Video

Wildwood Catholic athletic director Sal Zuccarello joked Friday that Stockton would be the site of a "Crusaders invasion" today.

"It's incredible," McCallion said. "We're making history, and it's awesome."

Neither the Wildwood Catholic boys nor girls have played in a CAL title game since the league began its current stretch of championship games in 1992. The boys did win a mini-playoff to capture the 1969 CAL title. But the league was much different back then. For instance, Atlantic City was not a member.

"It's going to be huge to be there (today), but we want to win," Crusaders senior forward Eddie McWade said.

The boys and girls basketball programs energize Wildwood Catholic, a tiny parochial school with a sophomore through senior class enrollment of 120 students, according to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Never was that more true that Friday. There was a buzz in the hallway about today's games. People exchanged high-fives and just about everybody walked around with a smile.

"The day goes by a lot quicker (after a win)," McWade said.

On Friday, students and teachers could still not get over the boys' 58-54 semifinal win over Holy Spirit on Thursday in Hammonton.

Crusaders forward Jordan Robertson sank a 3-pointer with 14.5 seconds left to put Wildwood Catholic ahead for good. He clinched the game with a two-handed breakaway dunk with three seconds left.

The Wildwood Catholic boys also survived a close quarterfinal game Monday. They beat Millville 55-54 when a potential winning shot by Millville rolled off the rim as time expired.

The girls also have been one of the league's top teams all season. But they struggled toward the end of February, splitting their final six regular-season contests. But the girls have played as well as they have all season during the CAL tournament, beating St. Joseph 41-32 in the quarterfinals and Cedar Creek 61-52 in the semifinals. The girls feature center Kennedy Johnson, who enrolled at Wildwood Catholic after Sacred Heart in Vineland closed last June because of low enrollment.

Wildwood Catholic nearly closed in 2010 because of low enrollment. The alumni came together to raise funds to keep the school open.

The days when the school's existence was in question seemed further away than ever this week as the Crusaders boys and girls earned their way to today's finals.

"We're the hub of South Jersey basketball right now," Zuccarello said.

Contact Michael McGarry:


Recommended for you

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.