ATLANTIC CITY — The Wildwood Catholic High School boys basketball team survived again Saturday afternoon.
Jacob Hopping sank a driving layup with 1.6 seconds left to give the Crusaders a 49-47 win over Paterson Kennedy in a Battle by the Bay game.
Wildwood Catholic trailed by nine in the third quarter. The victory came one week after the Crusaders rallied from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat Cherokee 65-58 in overtime in a Jeff Coney Classic game at Rancocas Valley.
“I guess,” Hopping said with a smile, “we’re giving you guys something to watch.”
On Saturday, Hopping’s winning basket came on a sideline out-of-bounds play. The 6-foot-3 junior caught the ball in the left corner and drove the baseline for the layup. The play was designed to get the ball inside to 6-7 forward Taj Thweatt.
“We had to get a bucket no matter what,” Hopping said. “I’d rather take it to the basket and either make it or dish it to Taj.”
Hopping finished with 12 points, and Jahlil White led the Crusaders with 16. Thweatt scored 11 and grabbed eight rebounds. Wildwood Catholic held Paterson to 17 points in the second half.
“We turned up the defensive intensity,” Hopping said. “Whenever we turn up our defense, our offense comes in turn with that.”The Battle by the Bay began in 1995 and annually features some of the top high school programs from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and other East Coast states.
Wildwood Catholic (18-1) is ranked No. 2 in The Press Elite 11. Paterson Kennedy (10-6) is a North Jersey Group IV contender.
The Crusaders struggled to score most of the game against the Knights’ zone defense.
Wildwood Catholic sank just 2 of 15 shots from 3-point range. Meanwhile, Paterson Kennedy sank 6 of 10 from beyond the arc.
“I don’t think we played very well,” Wildwood Catholic coach Dave DeWeese said. “They’re a good team. They have some quality wins. We were fortunate to come away with a win.”
The two 3-pointers Wildwood Catholic did make were crucial.
DaSean Lopez and Jake McGonigle each sank a fourth-quarter shot from beyond the arc to help the comeback.
With the score tied at 47, Paterson Kennedy tried to hold the ball for the last shot. The Knights, however, turned the ball over on a travel violation with 9.3 seconds left. That set the stage for Hopping’s winning layup.
Paterson Kennedy 17 13 9 8—47
Wildwood Catholic 17 7 15 10—49
PK – Harrison 13, Gilbert 9, White 5, Hargrove 2, Robinson 5, Cargegio 2, Tyrell 4, Cook 2, Abrams 5
WC – McGonigle 5, White 16, Lopez 3, Hopping 12, Thweatt 11, Church 2