Almost immediately, the Wildwood High School girls basketball team started this past season strong. From there, they progressed forward toward significant team triumphs, many individual successes and ultimately a sparkling 24-6 record.
The Lady Warriors were also 7-1 in the Tri-County Conference Classic Division, along with Gloucester Catholic.
“Early in the year, on Dec. 29, 2019, in the Boardwalk Basketball Classic, we beat Merion Mercy (Pennsylvania) in overtime,’’ Wildwood head coach Teresa Cuniff said. “This stands out because it showed me that my team had what it took to be in a very close game and come out victorious. We controlled the overtime and outscored Merion Mercy, 9-4.
“Our game against Woodbury, on Jan. 11, when we played Woodbury at home, and our point guard, Imene Fathi, was on the bench with foul trouble and Jenna Hans got hurt in the first half and didn’t return to the game. Despite that, we came out on top of Woodbury, 56-51. Winter Favre had an outstanding game, with 22 points.’’
A victory at an opponents’ gym also stands out as a big-time win for Wildwood.
“Our signature win on the road was over Gloucester Catholic, on Jan. 21,'' Cuniff said. "We won, 43-39, and really played a great game we led from start to finish.
"Leah Benichou had a three-point basket late in the game to seal the win. Three of my starters scored in double digits, Leah Benichou, 14 points, Winter Favre, 13 points, and Imene Fathi, 12 points.’’
Fathi, Hans, Favre and Benichou were among the team leaders for the Lady Warriors this winter.
“Fathi played in all 30 games, with 103 rebounds, 98 assists, 82 steals, six blocks and 328 points,’’ Cuniff said. “Hans played in all 30 games, with 179 rebounds, 60 assists, 63 steals, 22 blocks and 312 points.
"Favre played in all 30 games, with 210 rebounds, 88 assists, 96 steals, 20 blocks and 296 points. Benichou played in all 30 games with 78 rebounds, 40 assists, 55 steals, three blocks and 252 points.’’
On a team-wide basis, each player improved continuously.
“Overall, we’ve seen steady improvement from all of the girls,’’ Cuniff said. “They worked hard all season long and improved in almost every game they played in.’’
The Lady Warriors advanced to the championship round of the NJSIAA South Jersey Group I Sectional Tournament, before losing to Woodbury, 38-32. Wildwood topped Gateway (53-18), Pitman (44-14) and Palmyra (37-23) in the Sectional Tournament.
“We lose just two seniors and gain some good incoming freshmen,’’ Cuniff said. “We are already so excited for next season.’’