BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School basketball team avenged last year’s regional finals loss to defending state champion Coral Springs High School by coasting to an 82-62 win on Friday, Feb. 24 to capture its second regional championship in three years. The win also earned Wellington a berth in the state final four.
The District 9-9A champions’ road to victory started in the regional quarterfinals, hosting Atlantic High School. Wellington (27-3) rolled through the Eagles 78-57 to move on to a regional semifinal matchup with Lake Worth High School on the road.
Wellington found itself in a battle with the Trojans, but managed to sustain a four-point lead at the half. Wellington saw its lead slip away, along with chances to advance in the tournament, when Lake Worth rallied in the third period to steal the lead 42-38.
The Wolverines would not surrender their chances to advance and constructed a fourth-period comeback to recapture the lead with less than seven seconds on the clock. Senior Miguel Peart came up big when he grabbed the ball and put up the go-ahead basket from under the rim. The Wolverines were able to do just enough collectively to capture the 66-64 victory, setting up the rematch with the Colts in the finals.
It was the second straight year that Wellington hosted Coral Springs in the regional finals, and there was a strong Wolverine energy in the air.
“They wanted this game so badly,” Wellington coach Matt Colin said. “You could tell from the beginning; they were filled with a ton of energy and enthusiasm, and it showed on the court.”
The Wolverines jetted out of the gate offensively, grabbing rebounds and making plays under the boards to the rim, which converted to points, and they led 17-5 at the end of the first period. The Wellington defense stifled a struggling Colts offense, held to single digits most of the first half. The Wolverines led 35-9 with less than four minutes to play in the half and led 41-22 at the break.
The third period, the Colts managed a brief rally to climb to within 12 points, but could not draw a closer, and Wellington rolled for the remainder on Trent Frazier’s game-high 29 points. With under a minute to play, Frazier sunk a single-handed dunk that ignited the home crowd into a cheer. “I had to do it one time for the crowd,” Frazier said. “It was my last home game, and it feels amazing.”
Wellington’s success was double-sided; defensively they came up big under the boards and in transition. Offensively they were accurate at the rim both inside and from the perimeter.
“I think that we played great defense, and then we were able to rebound and run,” Colin said. “We caught them in transition, and when we did that, we looked really good.”
For Wellington, Frazier had the team’s high total of 29 points. Sage Chen-Young put up 18 points and had eight assists. Jay Medor contributed 14 points.
Wellington next plays Kissimmee Osceola on Friday night at the Lakeland Civic Center in the state semifinals.
ABOVE: The 2017 regional champion Wellington High School Wolverines.