The sniper-like accuracy of Palm Beach Central High School basketball player Eduardo Diaz in the final seconds helped end an 11-season skid with rival Wellington High School on Friday, Jan. 11 before a packed gymnasium at PBCHS.
The last time the Broncos defeated the Wolverine basketball team was 2008. Diaz sank a three-point basket with seven seconds remaining to put the Broncos up 58-56, after trailing late in the game.
The teams battled to the wire in a matchup that saw the lead exchanged countless times.
The Wolverines (11-5) started out with an 11-2 early first period lead that forced the Broncos to call a time out. Wellington led the entire first half, at one point posting a 10-point advantage 27-17 in the second period. Palm Beach Central (11-4) chipped away on offense while their defense clamped down on the Wolverines. The Broncos worked the clock well in the final minutes of the half to create a chance to go up and sank a two-point basket with four seconds remaining. The score put the Broncos in the lead for the first time in the game, 29-28.
The second half ultimately delivered a similar outcome in dramatic fashion. Both teams traded blows through the half, with the Wolverines recapturing the lead from a three-point basket from Chris Walker, but Will Van Hook mirrored that and dropped in a three-point basket to make it 32-31 as the two squads continued to exchange the lead.
The Broncos held a 43-42 lead going into the final period of the game. The Wolverines clawed back to retake the lead 50-49 at the midpoint. Palm Beach Central tied the game seconds later at 50-50, but again Wellington rallied to take a 55-53 advantage with 1:10 to play.
The Broncos relied on Diaz from the outside due to the Wolverines shutting down the inside. With seven seconds on the clock, Diaz launched a shot that dropped into the net for the three-pointer to put the Broncos ahead 58-55.
The Wolverines managed one more point but could not formulate an offensive attack in the short time needed to reclaim the lead. Palm Beach Central celebrated the 58-56 win center court in jubilation. The two teams will face each other again, this time at WHS, on Friday, Feb. 1 for a rematch, which is certain to not disappoint. After the victory over Wellington, the Broncos were on a five-game win streak.
Three Bronco players contributed with double-digit points on the night. Alphonse Alfred totaled 18 points and a three-point basket, Van Hook had 17 points and three three-point baskets, and Diaz recorded 12 points with two three-point baskets. Linton Brown had 13 points for Wellington, and Walker recorded 10 points and two three-point baskets, while Jagger Ruiz tallied 11 points for the Wolverines.