BY GENE NARDI
On Thursday, Feb. 12, the Wellington High School boys varsity basketball ball team hosted Spanish River High School in a Class 8A regional quarterfinal game and had to rally to edge the Sharks 40-38. With the victory, they moved on to the semifinals.
The Wolverines (25-3) have lived their motto for the season, and that is to share the ball. Last Thursday night was evidence of that, as Wellington surrendered a first-half lead, and needed to come up big during the second half to come from behind for the victory.
Wellington put together 24 second-half points in a defensive battle between the squads. Accurate passes in the second half and stingy defense by the Wolverines made the difference.
Alex Dieudonne, Trent Frazier and Nick Brown contributed to the cause, combining for 28 of the team’s 40 points.
In the first half, the two teams traded blows, taking the lead. The first half ended locked up at 16-16, with both defenses playing solidly.
Midway through the third period, Wellington and Spanish River were staying tight at 20-20, but the Wolverines would then take the lead by up to five points.
The tide turned as the Sharks (19-7) battled back to close the gap, and later in the final period, Spanish River had Wellington trailing by as many as four points.
“That’s a well-coached team,” Wellington coach Matt Colin said of the Sharks. “They play defense like no other team we’ve seen this year.”
Quick countering with aggressive defense made all the difference late in the fourth quarter. Dieudonne’s quick counters earning four points with less than two minutes remaining gave the Wolverines a one-point lead at 38-37.
Sage Chen-Young then struck with the dagger, sinking two free throws with just 22 seconds on the clock to give Wellington a 40-37 lead. The Sharks managed one of two free throws inside the final 10 seconds but could not overcome the Wellington rally, and the Wolverines held on to the 40-38 win.
“We had a little bit of everything go wrong in the first half,” said Colin, referring to several early fouls committed by his Wellington players. “This feels good, and what feels great is that we’re able to play and move onto the next round.”
ABOVE: Wellington’s Trent Frazier goes up for a fourth-quarter score.