BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School boys basketball team traveled to Palm Beach Central High School on Friday, Jan. 22 to take on the Broncos for the second time this season. Wellington put together a second-half rally to defeat the Broncos 74-65 before a capacity crowd.
The Wolverines handled the Broncos earlier in the season 64-54, again in a close contest. The two squads together, on the same court, have the chemistry for an epic match-up.
The Broncos (10-13) played as if they were shot out of a cannon, and jumped out to a 17-14 lead over the defending state champions. Palm Beach Central was more aggressive under the net and more accurate from the corners and the key as the team maintained a lead throughout the first half.
Guard Michael Shakes poured it on in the first period for the Broncos with 11 points and two three-point baskets. At one point, Wellington (20-4) found itself down by 15 points, but clawed back to cut the margin to end the half down 35-26.
The second-half rally by the Wolverines proved catastrophic for the Broncos. A third-period surge with the aid of Trent Frazier and Alex Dieudonne led Wellington to its first lead of the game 54-47. The dynamic duo combined for 20 points in the third period.
“We started to share the ball a lot better, and Trent hit some shots, too,” Wellington coach Matt Colin said. “They were willing to give up the ball and find the hot man, and hit the shots.”
Palm Beach Central continued to pressure the Wolverines, but it was Wellington that could do no wrong under the net, turning the ball over only once in the second half.
“A big difference to five turnovers in the first half,” Colin said. “We were patient yet intense and a lot stronger with the ball in the second half.”
Wellington did just enough on both sides of the court to keep the determined Broncos at bay and held on to win 74-65. Frazier had 24 points and four three-point scores, Dieudonne recorded 18 points, and Lester Gates tallied 11 points and one three-point score for the Wolverines.
Shakes totaled 24 points and three three-point scores for the Broncos. Forward Trevon Savage also had 18 points for the Broncos.
ABOVE: Wellington’s Alex Dieudonne goes up for a dunk shot.