WELLINGTON — The road to the Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division girls basketball championship now runs through Wellington.
Alexis Lehmkuhl and Jalen Gibbs combined for 31 points and 26 rebounds Wednesday, powering the Dukes to a 49-28 victory over Buckeye in a battle for first place in the league.
Wellington (7-2, 6-0) led from wire to wire, building 26-2 and 29-4 advantages late in the second quarter, en route to moving 1½ games ahead of the second-place Bucks (5-7, 5-2) as the season nears its midpoint.
“When you’re playing the No. 1 team in the league, especially on their floor, you’ve got to start the game by making shots and playing strong defense,” Buckeye coach Ron Clady said. “Wellington has a lot of weapons and we just didn’t match their level of play right away.
“Hopefully, we’ll get back to winning and make the last game of the season when they come to our place mean something.”
Sophomore center Grace Allen paced the Bucks with seven points, nine rebounds and three blocks, while sophomore forward Madison Ross had seven points and five steals. Guard Gabby Glancy chipped in four points, five rebounds and five assists.
Buckeye shot .179 from the field, including .125 on 3-pointers, and committed 24 turnovers in its second-lowest scoring PAC game of the season. Fourteen of the miscues occurred in the opening half, when its turnover total was three more than its total points.
“We’ve been preparing for them really well in practice, but we came out slow and our shots weren’t falling,” Allen said. “Our biggest problem in the first half, though, was turnovers. We all threw too many passes away instead of driving to the basket.”
When the Bucks did attack the paint, Wellington’s trio of 6-footers took turns swatting shots and deflecting balls.
Junior center Lehmkuhl had 16 points, 13 rebounds, four blocks and three steals, while sophomore forward Gibbs had 15 points, 13 boards, six steals and three rejections. Forward Erin Frenk added seven points, six boards, three assists and three blocks.
Dukes point guard Hope Diermyer — she was the only senior in the teams’ starting lineups — used her trio of trees exceptionally well, making crisp entry passes and well placed lobs. She finished with eight points and a game-high 10 assists.
“Our length helps a ton, but our whole group did a nice job communicating at both ends,” Wellington coach Nathan Morris said. “We’ve done really well running the floor and shooting the basketball all season. Honestly, it’s so much fun to watch this team play when it gets out in the open floor like you saw tonight.”
Freshman forward Sydney Bell collected four points and seven offensive rebounds for Buckeye, which was outscored just 18-17 in the second half.
“Grace Allen is a very, very good player, so we wanted to keep her off the glass as much as possible,” Morris said. “We did a pretty good job of that, and our guards did a nice job doubling her in the high post when she went there. Our goal from the start was to make the other girls beat us.”
Freshman guard Haylee Roach scored five of her team-high 11 points in overtime as Buckeye won the junior varsity game 34-29.
Contact Brian Dulik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wellington 49, Buckeye 28
BUCKEYE 2 9 14 3 — 28
WELLINGTON 16 15 10 8 — 49
Buckeye — Madison Ross 3-0-7, Sydney Bell 2-0-4, Grace Allen 2-3-7, Gabby Glancy 1-1-4, Tatum Widenmeyer 1-1-4, Madison Amburgey 1-0-2, Courtney Keeler 0-0-0. TOTALS: 10-5-28.
Wellington — Jalen Gibbs 7-0-15, Erin Frenk 2-3-7, Alexis Lehmkuhl 8-0-16, Lexi Wright 1-0-3, Hope Diermyer 3-0-8, Brooklinn Damiano 0-0-0, Amber Wetherbee 0-0-0, Micah Smiley 0-0-0, Grace Dudziak 0-0-0, Jill Laposky 0-0-0, Julia Molek 0-0-0, Myra Gardner 0-0-0. TOTALS: 21-3-49.
3-point goals — Ross, Glancy, Widenmeyer, Diermyer 2, Gibbs, Wright. Rebounds — Buckeye 34 (Allen 9), Wellington 35 (Gibbs, Lehmkuhl 13). Assists — Buckeye 7 (Glancy 4), Wellington 17 (Diermyer 10). Records — Buckeye (5-7, 5-2), Wellington (7-2, 6-0). Junior varsity — Buckeye 34, Wellington 29 (OT).