Wellington High School’s varsity girls basketball team is back as a force to be reckoned with in South Florida basketball circles.
Head coach Rodolfo Toledo was pleased with the overall performance of his squad, especially when you consider the progress that the team has made in recent years.
“It was disappointing to lose in the first round of regionals, but we are super proud of what our girls were able to accomplish this season,” Toledo said. “Just three seasons ago, this team was 4-19. During the COVID-19 year, we were 8-7. And, this year, we just missed a 20-win season by going 19-6, and we made it to the regional tournament.”
According to Toledo, his team had a great year, but it could have been better.
“We were a couple of plays away from winning our district tournament and our regional playoff game,” Toledo said. “So, it was a great season for us.”
As with most successful high school basketball teams, the key to the squad’s success has been its senior leadership.
“The seniors were a special group,” Toledo said. “They were a part of the 4-19 group from three seasons ago.”
Those five seniors are Jovenah Justabe, Michelle Puerta, Nicole Gumula, Karina Balcarcel and Leylani Sime.
Justabe has multiple talents, which she displays on both sides of the court.
“Jovenah Justabe was an all-around guard for us this season,” Toledo said. “She was our top defender and a leading rebounder and was able to score for us as well.”
Puerta brought great leadership to the team. “Michelle Puerta was our forward, she was our captain, and was also a great rebounder and defender,” Toledo said.
Gumula was a reliable scorer and defender.
“Nicole Gumula was a solid guard,” Toledo said. “She was able to score from all three levels, and she was a great defender.”
Balcarcel was a reliable “sixth man” for the team.
“Karina Balcarcel was a pest on defense,” Toledo said. “She was also our spark plug off the bench. She was able to knock down shots consistently from the outside for us all season.”
Sime could be relied upon to help the team grab key rebounds and play strong defense at significant times in big games.
“Leylani Sime started a few games for us,” Toledo said. “She was a dominant rebounder, great defender and a great leader.”
Looking forward, the future is promising for the Wellington High School girls basketball team.
“Gabriella Toledo and Tatyana Crafton will be two guards to watch out for next year,” coach Toledo said. “Gabriella is a dynamic scorer who is capable of scoring from all levels. She is also a solid defender, and she was a captain on this year’s team. Tatyana led the team in a lot of statistical categories. She had a few triple doubles for us this season. She is also a dynamic guard who can score and get her teammates involved. She is also a great defender. We look forward to our future next year with these two leading the way.”
Both girls were this team’s statistical leaders. Toledo led the team in scoring with 12.3 points per game, while Crafton led the team in rebounds (5.4 per game), assists (3.3 per game), steals (4.3 per game) and blocks (.5 per game).