Christian leads Warriors to upset of Penns Grove

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WILDWOOD – Scott McCracken was not a very happy coach after Thursday’s debacle at Pitman, when his Wildwood High School boys basketball team lost at Pitman by the ridiculous score of 72-32.

Pitman, one of the top small-school teams in South Jersey, might be a bit better than Wildwood right now. But definitely not 40 points better.

Then, the morning after the game, the Wildwood High School basketball community was stunned and saddened by the news that Bernie McCracken, who coached Wildwood to five South Jersey titles during two different stints as coach in the 1960s and 1970s, had passed away in Florida. (The current McCracken coach is not related to the former.)

So over the weekend, Scott McCracken went back to basics at practice. He pointed out all the league and sectional championship banners in the gymnasium, many of which were won under Bernie McCracken. He talked about the legendary coach’s legacy and he talked about the pride and storied tradition of Wildwood High School basketball.

Whether what was discussed over the weekend had any effect on the players is subject to debate. But the Warriors did respond with one of their best efforts of the season Monday night.

Wildwood put the sorry loss to Pitman behind it and earned one of its best victories of the season by notching a 71-69 decision over Penns Grove, one of the top teams in the Tri-County Classic Division. The win also avenged a 79-60 loss to the same opponent on the road earlier last week.

Francis Christian came two rebounds short of his second triple-double of the season, posting a game-high 28 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and five steals to lead the Warriors (11-9). Christian missed his first five shots from the floor but made 9 of his last 14. He shot 4 for 6 on three-pointers for a Wildwood team that made seven from behind the arc for the game.

Jose Valentin added 15 points and seven rebounds, Wes Hills netted 10 points and Dave Flanders and Anthony Madle chipped in nine points apiece for Wildwood.

Ge’Shawn Davis made 10 of 17 shots from the floor and scored 26 points for Penns Grove (14-7).

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