BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School boys basketball team took on district foe Palm Beach Gardens High School in the title game at Jupiter High School on Friday, Feb. 5 and won their third consecutive title, defeating the Gators 65-46. The third consecutive district title set a school record for Wellington.
The Wolverines earned their place in the finals after defeating Palm Beach Central High School in the semifinal game earlier in the week. At times, Wellington led the contest by 24 points, dominating on both sides of the court.
Wellington wasted no time in jumping out to an early lead, which it controlled the duration of the game. The Gators could do little offensively and turned the ball over six times early.
The Wolverines ruled the first period with an iron fist, commanding a 13-3 lead. Palm Beach Gardens rallied at the start of the second, sinking in consecutive three-pointers to cut the margin 13-9.
The brief rally did little to slow Wellington’s momentum, as the Wolverines held Palm Beach Gardens to just a single digit on the board and led 24-9 at the close of the first half.
“I think Palm Beach Gardens tried to control the tempo early, but we forced them to turn over the ball and started rolling,” Wellington coach Matt Colin said.
The Wellington momentum carried over to the second half. With just two minutes remaining in the third period, Wellington appeared ready to keep the game out of reach, holding a 24-point lead, 42-18. The Gators tried to bite into the Wellington lead, but no bite was big enough. The closest they could come was within 12 points, and eventually fell victim to the experienced Wolverine squad.
“I think we lost our focus defensively, letting them through to the basket, but got it back on our last run,” Colin said.
The victory added to the team’s 10-game win streak. The last loss for Wellington was Dec. 30 in the Farm Bureau Classic Championship game against Greenforest, Ga., where they fell 51-44.
Since then, the Wolverines have rolled through their opponents, including the 64-46 victory over the Gators to collect the District 9-8A championship crown. Junior Trent Frazier had a game-high 36 points, with four three-pointers.
“It feels great playing together with these guys,” Frazier said. “To win three in a row means a lot, but we’re looking to go back to states this year.”
Lester Gates also had 13 points for the Wolverines.
Wellington hosted Boca Raton on Thursday night in a regional quarterfinal match-up, but results were not available by press time.
ABOVE: The 2016 Wellington High School District 9-8A champions.