The Wellington High School basketball team is one step closer to capturing their third-straight regional title after defeating Lake Worth High School 70-60 on Thursday, Feb. 21 in a Class 9A regional quarterfinal match held in Wellington.
Linton Brown led the way for the Wolverines (22-6) with 30 points on the night. More impressively, Brown was 14 for 17 from the free-throw line, which helped seal the win over the Trojans.
Jagger Ruiz wasted no time from the tipoff, taking a pass to start the scoring to put Wellington up 2-0. The Wolverines went on an eight-point run to take an early 10-2 lead. Brown hit a three-point basket at the buzzer to close out the first period. The Trojans (19-9) hit 10 three-point baskets of their own on the night, which kept them in the game, despite the Wolverines leading by as much as 18 at one point. Wellington took a 37-26 halftime lead into the locker room.
The Wolverines continued in the second half to defend the paint and force Lake Worth to shoot from the outside. At times, the Trojans welcomed the challenge, hitting accurately from the outside, and it helped them close the margin in the final period, after a sluggish third by the Wolverines.
“We went through a stretch where we didn’t hit any in the third, going into the fourth quarter, I think we lost a little bit of confidence, but shortly thereafter, our guys stepped up. We were able to knock them down and close out the game,” Wellington coach Matt Colin said.
In the final period, Wellington returned to an aggressive play, which forced contact to land them at the free-throw line. Although Lake Worth outscored the Wolverines 24-19 in the final period, it was a series of fouls that put Wellington in position to keep the game out of reach after the Trojans got within four points late in the game.
“We were able to spread them out; able to find driving lanes and able to get to the rim and either score or get fouled,” Colin explained. “Lake Worth is very good at defending. We told our guys to be strong with the ball.”
The game closed out with Wellington spending most of the remaining 90 seconds at the free-throw line, securing the victory 70-60.
Other top performers for Wellington were Chris Walker with 13 points and two three-point baskets, while Cornelius Butler recorded 10 points.
The Wolverines faced Jupiter High School on Tuesday, Feb. 26 in the regional semifinals, defeating the Warriors 60-51 to advance to the regional finals. The meeting between the two rivals was the fourth this season, with Wellington winning the other three as well.