Freeman ties FT record as WHS wins bracket

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WILDWOOD – In theory, every victory by a sports team means the same. In reality, there are some that are more special than others.

Such was the case Monday afternoon at the Boardwalk Basketball Classic, in which the Wildwood High School girls basketball team won a bracket championship named in memory of a former standout Lady Warrior athlete.

Wildwood made just nine field goals but shot a sizzling 21 for 24 as a team from the foul line in posting a 41-37 victory over Friends Central (Pa.) to win the Kaitlin Anzelone Memorial Girls Bracket championship.

Anzelone was a three-sport athlete at Wildwood who was part of four South Jersey championship teams before graduating in 2003. She passed away at age 20 in July 2005 after an eight-month battle with leukemia.

“I didn’t want to talk too much about Kait before the game because I didn’t want the kids to get too emotional,” said Wildwood coach Dave Troiano, who also served as Anzelone’s high school coach. “But obviously winning this means an awful lot to me, and when I saw Connie (Anzelone’s mother) after the game, she was just beaming.”

Wildwood’s Jess Freeman tied a Boardwalk Classic record first set in 2002 by sinking 15 free throws (in 18 attempts). She scored a game-high 25 points to go with six rebounds and two steals. Leishley Reyes added 12 points, shooting just 3 for 15 from the floor but going 6 for 6 from the line.

Wildwood was out-rebounded by a much taller Friends Central team by 42-25. Freshman sensational Mikayla Taylor scored 12 points, claimed 16 rebounds and blocked three shots for Friends Central (5-3).

The Lady Warriors, however, were able to negate their size disadvantage through solid ball pressure that forced 21 turnovers.

“We made an adjustment on the fly to go to a 1-3 (zone defense) with a chaser, and that’s something we’ve never done before but the kids did a good job with it,” Troiano said. “‘Bean’ (Jillian Freeman) really did a good job hounding the ball outside.”

The bracket championship was the Lady Warriors’ first since 2007 and improved the team to 3-1.

“I’m thrilled to be 3-1 at this point,” Troiano said. “Hopefully we can keep it going.”

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