The Wellington High School girls basketball team fell short 45-37 to rival Palm Beach Gardens High School on Thursday, Jan. 25 in a hard-fought battle.
Both teams entered the contest with identical records at 14-4, so pressure was high and they pressed the action from the first whistle to the final buzzer.
The Wolverines took an early lead, briefly, at the start of the game but saw it slip away as the Gators took advantage of rebounds and turnovers to assume a 13-9 early second-period lead. Palm Beach Gardens would continue to pressure the Wolverine defense to the end of the first half, with Wellington clipping at the Gators’ heels, trailing 20-15. Despite the turnovers, the Wolverines were able to keep it a five-point game going into the locker room.
The district foes shot out into the second half exchanging blows. Jillian Duncan dropped in a three-point basket to cut the margin to 20-18 just seconds into the third period. The Gators did a solid job of responding any time Wellington grabbed some momentum.
Four turnovers for the Wolverines only gave Palm Beach Gardens opportunities, which they seized nearly every time. The Gators were able to convert many of the Wellington mishaps into points, extending their lead to 35-21 by the end of the third period.
The Wolverines had plenty of chances to close the gap but could not finish under the net.
“We had a few bad possessions,” Wellington coach Randy Soto said. “Palm Beach Gardens answered, and we never recovered. The defense seemed to frustrate my girls, and we played emotional.”
Wellington rallied in the fourth period, outscoring the Gators 16-10, but it would not be enough to reclaim the lead.
The Wolverines had difficulty earning enough rebounds to maintain an advantage in possession. The Gators were able to hold on for the victory, 45-37.
“We have to go back to the basics,” Soto said. “We have to start inside out and lock in defensively.”
Duncan is credited with two three-point baskets for Wellington. Sydney Jones tallied 10 points, and Mia Jones scored 15 points with a trio of three-point baskets for the Wolverines.
The Wolverines fell to 14-5 on the season but still remain in contention as a district postseason threat.