• Dan Russoman

Wildcats notch first win


St. Joseph’s Brielle Hutchison scored 10 points as the Wildcats topped Buena last week. (THG/Dan Russoman. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

BUENA—Weeks of practice and hard work finally paid off for St. Joseph Academy’s girls basketball team last week, as the Wildcats notched their first win of the season, defeating host Buena, 31-24.


Freshman Cassidy Perri led St. Joe with 12 points, while Brielle Hutchison added 10 in the win as every Wildcat found the scoring column.


The win was also the first for head coach Matt O’Keefe, who was pleased with his team’s performance.


“The girls have worked hard and they just get better and better every day. I’m proud of them,” O’Keefe said.


As for his first win, O’Keefe thanked the St. Joseph community.


“I’m just blessed and pleased to be able to give back to the place that took a chance on me,” he said.


The game matched two rebuilding programs, as both have struggled the last few seasons. Neither team had a win entering last week’s matchup.


Perri hit an early 3-pointer as St. Joseph took a 6-0 lead to start the game. The Wildcats extended their lead to 13-2 in the second quarter, as Perri added a basket and Hutchison connected on a 3-pointer and added a layup to power a 7-4 run.


Leading 13-4 at halftime, St. Joe continued to use pressure and a tight man-to-man defense to force turnovers and bad shots from Buena in the second half.


Hutchison hit another 3-pointer and a mid-range jumper, while Perri and Brianna Bailey scored to help the Wildcats maintain their lead entering the final period.


Buena rallied in the fourth quarter, pulling to within seven points, but Katie Dainton hit two shots and Perri added three more points to help St. Joseph seal the win.


The victory came a day after St. Joe had turned in its best performance of the season in a 47-35 loss at Bridgeton.


For the Wildcats, the scoring total was impressive, as the St. Joseph had totaled just 37 points in their first three games combined.


Bridgeton led by four points after one period, and held a 23-17 lead at the half. The Wildcats pulled to within two points with a 13-9 third-quarter run, but Bridgeton closed the game by outscoring St. Joseph 15-6 in the fourth quarter.


Perri led the Wildcats with 11-points, while Bailey added seven and Dainton finished with six.


St. Joseph was scheduled to play at Millville last week, but that game was postponed. Earlier this week, the Wildcats played at Our Lady of Mercy Academy (OLMA) and Hammonton, but those games ended too late for this edition. On February 18, St. Joe again visits OLMA at 5:30 p.m.