The Wellington High School boys varsity basketball team claimed the state title with a narrow 57-56 victory Saturday, Feb. 28 over Hagerty High School from Oviedo. The Wolverines advanced to the final match with a 76-69 victory over McArthur High School from Hollywood on Thursday, Feb. 26.
Heading into the final game, Wellington coach Matt Colin was not sure how his players would respond. “We have been on big stages before, but this was the biggest,” he said. “I was very pleased to see that we came out hungry and ready to compete from the start.”
Wellington jumped out to a 15-10 lead after the first quarter behind several driving scores by Alex Dieudonne. But Hagerty showed the mettle that could be expected from a program accustomed to playing on the big stage, and the teams entered the locker room at half time with Wellington leading 33-28. To start the second half, Hagerty went on a 5-0 run to tie the score, and from there it was back and forth. After the third quarter, the score was 43-42 with Hagerty on top.
With approximately 2:45 remaining in the game, Hagerty was in possession with a two-point lead at 56-54. They went into a delay offense, which forced the Wolverines to gamble and left senior Robin Loh open for three. The shot hit the rim and went around the inside of the rim twice before falling out and into the hands of Trent Frazier, who secured the rebound. Frazier then set up the offense for Wellington and called his own number on an aggressive move to the basket, which earned him two free throws. The sophomore point guard calmly drained both shots to tie the game at 56-56. Hagerty inbounded the ball and went right back into their delay offense.
After a Wellington delay offense milking the clock and several time outs by both teams, the stage was set for the final play with 5.1 seconds on the clock. Wellington inbounded the ball to Frazier, who quickly looked to attack the basket but was cut off by Hagerty’s Alex Keel before he was knocked to the floor and fouled in the act of shooting. Undaunted by the gravity of the moment, Frazier calmly sank the first free throw to give Wellington a 57-56 lead. Then Frazier attempted to intentionally miss the second shot so as not to give Hagerty a chance to inbound the ball. Unfortunately, the sophomore missed the rim, and the shooting violation gave the ball to Hagerty to inbound with less than a second on the clock. Hagerty inbounded to Denzel Mahoney, who fumbled the pass and heaved a desperation shot as time expired. As the shot flew by the backboard, the Wolverine bench began running on the court to celebrate.
Frazier had 13 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Diuedonne scored 18 points and added seven rebounds. Lester Gates scored 10 points, while Aaron Kwiatek and Ethan Bureau each added eight points. Sage Chen-Young and Nick Brown contributed off the bench for the Wolverines, and seniors Sam Bernstein and Jason Rosen leave Wellington as the only players in school history with multiple district titles and a state title.
“This is one of the best feelings I have ever had,” Colin said. “I am so proud of the boys on how hard they worked and how unselfishly they play… It has been a pleasure seeing this boys turn into young men throughout the season.”
ABOVE: The Wolverines celebrate the team’s first state basketball title after defeating Hagerty High School from Oviedo.