The Dukes were quick out of the gates Friday but a decisive fourth quarter in favor of Buckeye (2-0) locked up a 72-55 victory over Wellington (1-2).
“Execution was definitely a problem, which isn’t to take anything away from Buckeye,” said Wellington coach Dan Gundert. “We did a good job fighting to get back in the game but we didn’t do what we needed to do down the stretch. I don’t know if we used up all of our energy to get back into it, but we had no energy in the fourth quarter.”
Max Joppeck and Trey Bealer each scored 10 to lead Wellington.
“We need to play harder and rebound the ball,” said Joppeck. “We stopped playing hard late and that’s it. We couldn’t finish at the rim or in other areas.”
“It’s going to be a matter of improving our practices,” Bealer said. “Practice is never fun but it’s how you win games. There’s a quote that says practice isn’t glorious but with no practice there’s no glory. We’re going to be all right.”
A back-and-forth first quarter saw Buckeye take a 19-18 lead but Wellington jumped back out in front 22-19 with 6:30 left in the second quarter after Colton Schmidt took a rebound coast-to-coast for a layup and ensuing foul shot.
That was the last lead the Dukes would hold.
Buckeye built a 32-24 lead by the 2:17 minute mark in the second, thanks largely to tough layups through traffic from Spencer Imes, who finished with a game high 21 points, followed closely by Braeden Stauffer’s 20.
Justin Canedy was a force in the paint for Buckeye all night, rejecting five Wellington shots and grabbing nine rebounds.
After going into halftime trailing 38-29, Wellington began to turn things around in the third. A Joppeck three-pointer cut the lead to seven and a chase-down swat from Bealer followed by another Schmidt fast break layup seemed to swing momentum toward the Dukes.
Wellington got as close as 48-43 with 6:50 left in the game but a sudden uptick in pressure from the Buckeye defense put the rally to bed. The Bucks stretched the lead back to 59-50 by 3:13 and 66-54 at 1:05.
The loss comes after Wellington gained its first win of the season Dec. 6, an impressive 78-46 rout of Brooklyn on the road.
“It’s time to focus in,” said Gundert. “We know what we need to do. Everyone in this locker room knows what we need to do. Some attention to detail and playing a little harder will go a long way.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Photos by Jonathan Delozier | Wellington Enterprise Max Joppeck gets an earful from the Buckeye student section during the Dukes’ 72-55 defeat on Friday.