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Playoff recaps: Wildwood teams sweep, Ocean City caps wild comeback with basket at buzzer

Posted: February 27th 2024

Ryan Troiano and Junior Hans helped lead Wildwood to a state playoff victory over Audubon.

By BRIAN CUNNIFF

CapeAtlanticLive.com

It was another exciting evening in Cape May County high school basketball playoff action on Tuesday.

Both Wildwood teams advanced with home victories, and Ocean City’s boys team beat the buzzer to win after rallying from a large deficit at halftime.

WARRIOR BOYS LEAD START TO FINISH

Wildwood led from start to finish, but did have to endure some anxious moments early in the fourth quarter before settling for a 49-38 victory over Audubon in a South Jersey Group I quarterfinal game.

Fourth-seeded Wildwood opened a lead as large as 10 points at 30-20 when Ryan Troiano knocked down a left-wing three-pointer early in the third quarter, only to see Audubon reel off a 18-9 run to pull to within a point at 39-38 with 3 ½ minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

But Junior Hans made a driving layup while being fouled for Wildwood. He missed the free throw, but Wildwood stopped Audubon on its next possession and Brian Cunniff finished at the front of the rim to up the Warrior lead to five at 43-38 with 2:45 to go. A couple of possessions later, Jordan Fusik found Josh Pintella wide open under the basket for a layup to increase the lead to 45-38 and essentially put the game away.

Wildwood improved to 16-12 with the victory in the final home game in the careers of the team’s eight seniors.

“You always want to be playing your best basketball when you get to the playoffs,” Wildwood coach Scott McCracken. “We played a lot of tough games this year against some much bigger schools to try to be a better basketball team at this time of year.”

Hans scored a game-high 24 points to pace Wildwood offensively. He also grabbed seven rebounds.

“He was very good tonight,” McCracken said. “He got it inside and took it to the hole but he also hit a couple mid-range shots, which is good. And defensively he was great, too.”

Ryan Troiano held Audubon leading scorer Ryan Johnston to 15 points, just two after halftime. Johnston entered the game averaging more than 22 points per game.

“He was unbelievable, especially in the second half,” McCracken said. “We challenged him at halftime and he did a really good job on (Johnston). That kid can really play and he can score. Ryan did a really good job on him.”

Cunniff finished with seven points, nine rebounds and three steals in the win.

Wildwood will play at top-seeded KIPP Cooper Norcross Academy on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the sectional semifinal round.

WILDWOOD GIRLS HOLD OFF GLASSBORO

Wildwood’s girls team was challenged by a young Glassboro side but the Lady Warriors handled the critical possessions late in the game well and pulled away for a 51-40 victory in a South Jersey Group I quarterfinal game.

With the game tied at 16-16 midway through the second quarter, second-seeded Wildwood took the lead for good with an 8-0 run to close the first half for a 24-16 lead, holding No. 7 Glassboro without a point for the final four minutes of the second quarter.

Wildwood extended its lead to as high as 13 points early in the fourth quarter, only to see Glassboro rally to cut the deficit to 45-40 with 1:45 to play. But Glassboro didn’t score again and Wildwood made 6 of 8 free-throw attempts in the closing moments to pull away.

Macie McCracken poured in 30 points and gathered 12 rebounds to lead the Lady Warriors (21-7). The junior made five three-pointers to increase her total to 102 for the season and 270 for her career. She has 1,731 career points.

Rebecca Benichou added 11 points for Wildwood, which will host third-seeded Maple Shade on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. in the sectional semifinal round.

LABARRE BEATS BUZZER TO CAP AMAZING OCHS RALLY

Ocean City’s boys team looked as if it were facing a second-round playoff exit at home when the Raiders fell behind by 37-18 at the half to upset-minded Cherry Hill West.

But the Raiders responded with their best half of defense in any game this season and Charlie LaBarre made a shot from the middle of the lane at the buzzer to seal a wild 46-44 victory in a South Jersey Group III playoff game.

On the final possession, Ocean City’s Dylan Schlatter missed a foul-line jump shot but Pat Grimley secured the offensive rebound for the Raiders. He moved the ball to Ben McGonigle, who found LaBarre at the top of the key. LaBarre drove into the top of the lane and flipped a one-handed shot through the basket as time expired.

Ocean City (25-3), the No. 2 seed in the bracket, outscored No. 7 Cherry Hill West 28-7 in the second half, including 14-2 in the fourth quarter.

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