BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School boys varsity basketball team hosted Jupiter High School for the Class 8A regional semifinal and defeated the Warriors 65-51 on Tuesday, Feb. 17 before a capacity crowd. It marked the second time in program history that the Wolverines (27-3) made it to the regional finals.
The semifinal game marked the fourth time this season the two teams have met on the court, with Wellington taking the streak to 4-0 against the Warriors.
A compilation of efforts contributed to the Wellington victory. Alex Dieudonne managed to shave off his earlier foul trouble in the first half and came up big in the second half with 21 points. Maestro Ethan Bureau hit six three-pointers in the contest that proved catastrophic for the Warrior defense.
Wellington concluded the first quarter with a four-point lead, 16-12, but the Warriors hung tough with Wellington in the second. The Warriors tied it at 22-22 with less than four minutes remaining in the half.
The Wolverines broke loose when Lester Gates took the ball for a slam dunk and assisted with outscoring the Warriors in the final minutes of the half 8-2 to let Wellington hold a 32-24 halftime lead.
Wellington remained in the driver’s seat for the duration, and coasted into the fourth quarter with a 43-38 lead. Jupiter did come within four points early in the third, but Wellington struck with sniper-like accuracy from the corners and secured several rebounds to keep possession.
Dieudonne and Bureau combined for 44 points on the night, with Dieudonne adding his 21 points all in the second half. Bureau had a game high of 23.
Jupiter came within three points early in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines continued their stingy ways, with Aaron Kwiatek tallying 11 rebounds and adding nine points. Wellington secured the 65-51 victory.
“We knew they were great players, and we stuck to our game plan; that’s a well-coached team, and they play with a lot of pride,” Wellington coach Matt Colin said of Jupiter. “We knew who their players were, and we just had to play.”
Wellington played Parkland-Douglas in the Class 8A regional final game on Saturday, and defeated the Eagles 70-57 to claim the school’s first regional title. Wellington played McArthur in the Class 8A state semifinal game in Lakeland on Thursday night, but the results were not available at press time.
ABOVE: Alex Dieudonne of Wellington dunks the ball for two points.