BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School girls basketball squad faced rival Palm Beach Gardens High School in the District 9-9A finals Friday, Feb. 3 and fell, in upset fashion, to the Gators 53-46.
The loss earned Wellington the runner-up spot and still pushed them forward into the regional quarterfinals.
The No. 4 Wolverines (21-4) entered the district tournament as the top seed, with Palm Beach Gardens coming in at the No. 2 position. The match-up was their third on the season, with the Wolverines leading the series 2-0, but Wellington could not capture the third.
Palm Beach Gardens went on a nine-point run, after the Wolverines went up 4-0 at the first whistle. McKenzie Streurer hit from the outside for a three-pointer that sparked the Wolverines to tie it at 11-11. She led Wellington to recapture the lead 15-13 going into the second period.
Gwen McCoy hit back-to-back baskets to start the second period to extend Wellington’s lead to 19-13. The Wolverines were able to do just enough through the second period to maintain a two-point lead to go in at the half up 25-23.
The second half belonged to the Gators. Wellington had difficulty making consistent passes and turned the ball over often. Palm Beach Gardens took advantage of the Wolverines’ mishaps. Wellington determined to bite back, forced the action, in a second half where the lead changed five times. The third period ended knotted at 35-35.
The fourth period added five more lead changes to the total, in what resembled two fighters trading blows in the center of the ring. The Gators were able to strengthen their defense with the aid of a few Wellington turnovers to extend their lead late in the game, and eventually seal the 53-46 district crown.
Top performers for Wellington were Mia Jones with 22 points, and Streurer with eight points and two three-pointers.
The loss sent the Wolverines on the road Thursday in a regional quarterfinal match-up with No. 1 Boca Raton, but results were not available by press time.
ABOVE: Wellington guard Jillian Duncan takes the ball up court.