Two relative newcomers to the state tournament, Lutheran East and Wellington looked the part of Division I teams. It made for an interesting Division IV final.
By Stan Wilker
Columbus – The game featured two teams similar in a number of ways: Wellington and Lutheran East are both relative newcomers to State Tourney play, and both featured rosters with D1 length and athleticism. It made for an interesting Division IV final, and an eventual Lutheran East win, 53-48.
However, from the opening tip through the first quarter, these similarities blew out of the arena as Wellington jumped to a 15 – 6 lead after 8 minutes. This early lead served only as fools gold as the turnover bugaboo that Wellington endured with some outstanding shooting, (63% from inside the arc, 1 for three from behind, and 4/6 from the charity stripe), would not be maintained during the next three quarters.
Lutheran East quickly turned the tables in the second stanza outscoring the Jaguars 12 to 3 to knot the score at 18 at the break. During one two minute time span Lutheran outscored Wellington 9 – 0. Emerging from the halftime break neither team found the formula for playing consistent basketball. Turnovers continued at an alarming rate for both sides.
While both squads feature excellent defenders, many of the turnovers were of the unforced variety, leading to a game that saw little flow either way , but a series of spurts. All that remained in the fourth quarter was to see which team could maintain a level of consistent play.
With a stick back at the 3 second mark to end the third Lutheran East owned a 5 point working margin entering the final stanza.
With the first possession the Eagles spread the floor in an apparent attempt to run some clock. The ploy worked to perfection as Travis Sanders was found for a wide open three and promptly drained it expanding the lead to 8 at 32 to 24.
Wellington closed to 34 – 29 and appeared to have some momentum on their side. That was short lived as East scored on a stick back and an easy deuce off a sharp assist from their spread offense running the deficit to 8 once again at 38 – 30. Two free throws closed the gap to 6 and on their ensuing possession a 3 was off the mark.
With a 1:03 left, all that was left for Lutheran to do was hold on to the ball and make free throws, which they did. Travis Sanders delivered on 3 of his four attempts and Daandrae Bateman had a key stick back to seal the deal.
Both coaches lamented the number of turnovers, a total of 46 for the game, with Wellington owning 26.
Wellington compounded their problems with 1 of 11 shooting from behind the arc and 9 for 18 from the charity stripe, while converted on 8 of 12 free throw attempts.
Both teams shot 34% from the field, but a major difference was in bench points where the Falcon bench delivered 14 points to 5 for Wellington.