WILDWOOD - The Wildwood Catholic High School girls basketball team was steady enough to beat Wildwood 58-50 in the Andrew Alameno Memorial Island bracket championship game.
Inconsistency troubled both teams for much of the game, which was part of the six-day Boardwalk Basketball Classic at the Wildwoods Convention Center.
The Crusaders (2-1) appeared dominant early, building a 15-7 lead in the first quarter. They started the game with extreme patience, using steady passes to open up the best possible shots. Eventually, they started to force their passes and shots, turning the ball over and failing to convert scoring chances.
Wildwood Catholic led 28-21 at halftime, but Wildwood (1-2) charged out in front and took its first lead with a 10-2 run at the start of the third quarter. The Crusaders did not trail for long, though, as they took back the lead and finished the quarter leading 42-37.
"Both teams answered the call tonight," Wildwood coach Dave Troiano said. "We went down, they came back and we couldn't catch up. I'd like to think that if we score 50 points we could win."
Wildwood didn't take another lead, but the Warriors stayed in it thanks in part to Loretta Kelly's outstanding performance. The senior guard scored a game-high 23 points and added a game-high four steals as well.
"Loretta Kelly was exceptional tonight," Wildwood Catholic coach Fran St. John said. "We didn't have an answer for her."
Wildwood Catholic's standout player was senior guard Emily Whissell, who lad the Crusaders with 16 points and three steals. Whissell's best attribute was her ability to dribble through double- and triple-teams.
Whissell said that playing in the Wildwoods Convention Center adds a new level and excitement and nerves for her and her teammates, and is something that contributed to both teams' inconsistency.
"It's a big court," Whissell said. "Usually we're a good foul-shooting team, but tonight we weren't so good. It could be because we were excited. There were more people here than we usually play in front of."
Wildwood Catholic's consistency from the foul line was something St. John said his team needs to work on at this morning's practice. The Crusaders were just 14-for-26 (54 percent). Wildwood was 15-for-22 (68 percent).
"We still have a lot to work on," St. John said. "We're glad we won, but we're going to go in to practice (today) and see if there is something we can fix."
Notes: Wildwood Catholic also won last year's meeting, 46-33, at the Classic.
Contact Patrick Carragher:
Wildwood 7 14 16 13-50
Wildwood Catholic 15 13 14 16-58
WW-Roper 1 1-4 3, Tolomeo 3 0-0 9, McWade 4 5-5 13, Kelly 7 9-11 23, Ferrante 1 0-0 2. Totals-16 15-22 50
WC-Senatore 1 4-6 6, Martin 4 2-4 10, Whissell 6 4-9 16, Mathis 3 0-0 8, Casiello 2 2-3 8, Adair 2 0-0 4, McCallion 2 2-4 6. Totals-20 14-26 58
3-Pointers-Tolomeo (3) WW; Mathis (2), Casiello (2) WC.
Records-Wildwood 1-2, Wildwood Catholic.