WILDWOOD — The Wildwood High School girls basketball team is finally healthy.
Playing with a full lineup for the first time in more than two weeks after injuries had sidelined some key players in recent games, the Lady Warriors rolled to an easy victory in the opening round of the state playoffs Monday.
Wildwood had four players score in double figures and limited a short-handed Salem team to only six field goals in its 65-15 victory over the Rams in the opening round of the South Jersey Group I Tournament.
The victory sends fifth-seeded Wildwood to a sectional quarterfinal game Wednesday at fourth-seeded Haddon Township. Haddon Township was a 58-29 winner over Lindenwold in its opening-round game Monday.
Wildwood (18-8) took control of Monday’s game from the start. The Warriors used tough pressure defense to force numerous turnovers by 12th-seeded Salem (5-18), which was playing without two injured starters. Wildwood raced to a 23-2 lead after one quarter and was ahead 41-5 at the half.
Freshman point guard Maddie McCracken, who missed three recent games because of an ankle injury, flourished in the victory. She had 16 points, seven assists, four rebounds and three steals.
Sophomore forward Tracey Young, who played in her first game in two weeks after also suffering an ankle injury, recorded two points, three rebounds and four steals in limited action.
“It was nice to get everyone in there, and I was surprised at how well they were clicking,” Wildwood coach Dave Troiano said. “I didn’t know how effective Tracey was going to be, but the layoff didn’t seem to affect her. Maddie was moving very well, too.
“Nobody ever likes to see injuries, but some other kids got some playing time maybe they normally wouldn’t get, and that’s only going to help us. I was pleased with the continuity and the way we ran the floor effectively.”
Senior Jillian Freeman led all scorers with 20 points and also had four steals. Junior Mackenzie McCracken, Maddie’s older sister, flirted with a triple double finishing with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Senior Monika Concepcion-McGrath recorded a career-high 14 points to go along with five steals.
“Monika wasn’t feeling well before the game, so in the locker room afterward I told her that whatever she has I hope she keeps it for the rest of the playoffs,” Troiano joked.
Aliyah Thomas led Salem with 11 points.
Wildwood was knocked out of last season’s South Jersey Group I Tournament by Haddon Township in the third round, so the team is looking forward to the rematch, Troiano said.
“They’re a very good perimeter-shooting team,” Troiano said of Haddon Township. “They don’t have a real big girl inside, but they run a great offense, they run their sets well and they’re a very disciplined, hard-nosed ballclub. It’s not going to be easy for us, especially having to go up to their place. But if we can play the way we played (Monday), we’ll have a chance.”
Salem 2 3 0 8—15
Wildwood 23 18 20 4—65
S – Thomas 11, White 3, Jones 1
W – Concepcion-McGrath 14, Freeman 20, Mac. MacCracken 13, Mad. McCracken 16, Young 2.
3-pointers: White S; Freeman W.
Records: Salem 5-18; Wildwood 18-8.