HAMMONTON — So far this winter, Kaci Mikulski and the Wildwood Catholic Academy women’s basketball team have dominated from 3 points.
The Crusaders entered Thursday’s game with 75 3-pointers.
Mikulski contributed more than a quarter of that total, and his long-term success continued.
The second made six 3s to lead the Crusaders to a 54-42 victory over Hammonton in a Cape-Atlantic League United Division game. She led the team with 27 points.
Mikulski now has 32 3s leading the team this season. It was his third game with five more 3-point shots and his sixth with more than three points.
“I practice them constantly,” said Mikulski, 16, of Wildwood Crest. “It’s one of the main parts of my game right now. I’m trying to generalize it, make it bigger. But my 3-point shot has skyrocketed, so I’m going to keep it that way.
Crusaders coach Steve DiPatri noted that Mikulski spent a lot of time training and practicing during the offseason, which “dramatically improved his game, both offensively and defensively.”
People also read…
Wildwood Catholic had nine 3-pointers in the game, including two from Ella McCabe. Carly Murphy sank a 3 early in the first quarter. Wildwood Catholic (10-3) now has 84 3s in 13 games this winter.
“We practice them every day, so we have to push them forward,” said Mikulski, who noted the team lacked size, so they “focus on shooting. That’s a big thing we’re focusing on. Our shoot is amazing right now.
And the team bought into that mentality, DiPatri said. But the Crusaders are a young team, with only a handful of seniors. So there is still a lot of work to do.
“There’s no doubt that we’re a shooting team,” DiPatri said.
Wildwood Catholic led 12-9 after the first quarter. And the score remained tight until half-time.
Kiley Kozlowski made a 3-pointer that gave the Blue Devils a 16-15 lead early in the second quarter. But after a foul, senior Kimmy Casiello made both free throws as Wildwood Catholic regained the lead, 17-15, with 5 minutes, 6 seconds left in the first half.
Wildwood Catholic then went on an 11-8 run to close out the quarter, taking a 28-23 halftime lead. This run was highlighted by two 3s from Mikulski.
The loss ended a four-game winning streak for Hammonton (4-3).
“We played really well and got off to a quick start,” DiPatri said. “But (Hammonton) they have a lot of talent. They are coming off big wins against (Our Lady of Mercy) and (Egg Harbor Township). I think Hammonton played well.
The Crusaders’ game plan was to stop Hammonton star Emma Peretti, who averaged 26.5 points per game. She scored 15 goals and grabbed 10 rebounds Thursday, her seventh double-double of the season.
Wildwood Catholic defeated Hammonton 69-43 on December 22. DiPatri said his team bounced back better on Thursday compared to their last meeting with the Blue Devils.
Casiello scored 10 for the Crusaders. McCabe added eight points. Murphy scored seven and Ava Vogdes added two.
“I’m really proud of my teammates. It’s hard to beat a team twice, especially a team as good as Hammonton,” says Mikulski, who adds that the team needs to maintain that level of confidence and that kind of shooting. “But we did. I think we did very well.
Hammonton coach Mike Velardi noted his team was down 24-7 after the first quarter when they met the Crusaders in December. But the Blue Devils started faster on Thursday and dropped just five points at halftime.
“But we just couldn’t muster enough offense to keep it where we wanted it,” Velardi said. “Credit to (Wildwood Catholic). They have good shooters. We just couldn’t get enough to beat them.
Shamaya Simola scored nine for Hammonton. Giada Palmieri and Kozlowski scored seven each. Ava Divello added four. Palmieri grabbed six rebounds and had five assists. Divello grabbed five rebounds, senior Sofia Purvis had four.
Velardi praised his top six players (from a list of just eight), who are doing a fantastic job, and now need to refocus for tough competition, like Haddon Township on Friday and Middle Township next week.
“We weren’t at our best offensively (Thursday),” Velardi said. “We knew we had to contain (Wildwood Catholic), but we just missed a bit.”
Wildwood Catholic 54, Hammonton 42
Wildwood Catholic 12 16 9 17 — 54
Hamilton 9 14 5 14 — 42
BATHROOM: Mikulski 27, Casiello 10, McCabe 8, Murphy 7, Vogdes 2
H: Peretti 15, Simola 9, Palmieri 7, Kozlowski 7, Divello 4.
Contact Patrick Mulranen: 609-272-7217. PMulranen@pressofac.com. Twitter @ACPressMulranen