BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School boys basketball team hosted Boca Raton High School in a Class 8A regional quarterfinal match-up Thursday, Feb. 11 and orchestrated a second-half rally to defeat the Bobcats 47-45. That put the defending Class 8A state champions one step closer to another state tournament appearance.
The Wolverines and the Bobcats met on the court twice before, with Wellington winning both of those contests. Boca’s Bobcats knew they had to start strong from the initial whistle, and they did. At the end of the first period of play, the Wolverines found themselves down 17-13.
The Wolverines woke from their slumber and managed to tie the game at 19, then briefly took a 21-19 lead with under four minutes to play in the first half. Turnovers were costly, but they helped a stingy Boca squad, which played quickly and aggressively enough to lock in on a 26-22 halftime lead.
Wellington zeroed in on its rally in the second half, but often fell victim to the feisty Bobcat defense. The Wolverines soon found themselves down by 10 points, 32-22, with 3:57 left in the third period. “I told our guys at halftime that we have to get to the rim more and attack,” Wellington coach Matt Colin said.
Wellington needed a spark, and the go-to catalyst for igniting Wellington rallies all season has been junior Trent Frazier.
“Trent just took off with the ball,” Colin said.
With less than two minutes in the third period, Frazier ran the court, with the help of Sage Chen-Young and Lester Gates, on a 14-point run that brought the squad within one point of the Bobcat lead, 35-34.
A momentum change was in the works. Frazier and Alex Dieudonne continued the Wolverines’ charge into their first lead of the second half, 37-35. Both teams, aware of the consequence, continued to clash like warriors on a battlefield. Time management and patience were the key.
The score was locked at 44 with 1:33 on the game clock. Wellington managed to take the lead again 47-44, with eight seconds remaining. Boca managed only one point and time ran out as Wellington locked down its 47-45 victory in the regional quarterfinals.
“We were very fortunate to beat a very good Boca team tonight,” Colin said. “We have a lot of respect for them.”
Wellington hosted Santaluces High School in the regional semifinals Tuesday night, but results were not available by press time.
ABOVE: Wellington’s Ethan Bureau starts the play and moves the ball up the court.