The Wellington High School basketball team landed in Coral Springs against Taravella High School on Thursday, Feb. 20 in a fifth seed at-large slot in the Class 7A regional quarterfinals. The Wolverines fell just short in a dramatic loss 64-62 to the Trojans, ending the team’s post-season run.
The season was cut short by comparison to the last two years, where the Wolverines made back-to-back state final appearances. “Credit [Taravella] for the pressure that they put on us,” Wellington coach Matt Colin said. “We were not being as aggressive as we normally are, and I think that hurt us.”
Wellington trailed 14-8 in the first period. Turnovers were a factor in the deficit for the Wolverines. Punching back, Wellington created a couple of turnovers and created opportunity to lift them into a 15-14 lead to close out the quarter. Marvel Allen had a late dunk off a turnover, a layup that led to a foul with a free throw to propel his team into the lead entering the second period. Both teams traded heavy blows in the second period, with the lead changing three times. The Wolverines were able to provide a stronger performance to secure a 34-27 advantage to close out the first half.
Wellington started the second half operating on all cylinders with Chris Walker launching a three-point basket, and eventually extended the lead to 39-29 over the Trojans. Taravella used the spark as fuel for motivation and sank back-to-back three-pointers to close the margin. The Trojans then held Wellington scoreless for nearly five minutes through the third period. Taravella reclaimed the lead 43-42 by capitalizing on Wolverine miscues and turnovers. Wellington was able to do enough to stay close, entering the final period trailing 50-48.
With three minutes remaining, the Wolverines trailed 54-50 and continued to pressure Taravella, eventually tying the game at 62-62. At the 1:07 mark, Jagger Ruiz won a rebound, was fouled and went one-for-two on his free throws to tie the score. There were 3.4 seconds remaining on the clock, with Taravella patiently passing the ball, when a midcourt foul was called to give the Trojans two shots at the free throw line.
Going two-for-two, Taravella led 64-62. The Wolverines had just over three seconds to make a play to at least tie the game. The play landed in the hands of Allen, who made a strong push through the center directly at the rim, for an apparent game-tying layup, but the ball rolled the perimeter and off as the buzzer sounded.
“We’ve got to be a lot tougher,” Colin said. “We can’t be over passing; we can’t be hesitant to score layups. We can’t worry about them blocking our shot. Just go play, and once we got that back, we played much better.”
The Wolverines finished the season 21-7 overall and earned district runner-up honors. Allen led the Wolverines in scoring with 28 points, and Chris Walker closed out the night with 21 points and a three-point basket.