CLARENDON– There was no drama resulting in an improbable ending Tuesday night in the rematch.
Instead, the Wellington and Clarendon girls were right back where they started to end District 2-2A.
That was great news for No. 9 Wellington and not so great for No. 8 Clarendon. After the first meeting between the two teams at Wellington which Clarendon won on a half-court shot at the buzzer, Wellington made sure the home team didn’t believe in miracles in the end, as the Lady Skyrockets dominated in the second half for a 52-34 win in the regular season finale which resulted in the two teams being tied for the district title.
As a result, some time on Wednesday, it will be determined how the two teams, who finished district 9-1 after splitting their two regular season meetings, will decide who will be the No. 1 seed entering the playoffs next week. They will either play a seeding game or rely on a coin flip to determine the top seed.
If you go by momentum, you couldn’t blame the Lady Skyrockets for wanting to play a seeding game in the next few days, instead of leaving a possible top playoff seed up to fate.
“Our girls come to practice hard every day and we want to take each game with the same approach and try to play our best,” Wellington coach Cade Brown said. “I was proud of them for doing that tonight. Our defense is what we hang our hat on a lot of the time, but it was definitely nice to see the ball go in the hoop. That always helps.”
The last time the two teams played, it was Clarendon who put the ball in the hoop last, as Kennidee Hayes launched a shot from half-court which found nothing but net to give the Lady Broncos a 32-29 victory and sole possession of the district lead. By the time the buzzer sounded in the rematch, no doubt hung in the air regarding the outcome.
It started out as another competitive game, as Wellington’s six-point lead late in the first quarter was the biggest lead of the first half. While the Lady Skyrockets never trailed after that, they couldn’t get any separation, as they led 25-22 at the half.
The second half, though, was a different story.
“I was just really proud of the way we kept our composure and played as a unit,” Brown said. “That was a crazy ending last time. Our girls have played a lot of basketball as a senior-heavy team and they do a really good job taking each day as it comes and focus on getting better and better each day regardless of how a game comes out.”
Wellington (24-6) still couldn’t pull away in the third quarter, never leading by more than eight in taking a 35-28 lead at the end of the period. By the fourth quarter, though, it appeared that the Lady Skyrockets had worn down the Lady Broncos (30-2).
The Lady Rockets built their lead to as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter as Clarendon couldn’t generate anything offensively. Wellington’s offense, which struggled in the first meeting, found some balance in the rematch.
After hitting six 3-pointers in the first half, the Lady Skyrockets spent more time working it inside in the second half. Briley Waters especially benefited from that approach for Wellington, scoring eight of her game-high 14 points in the second half.
“That one stung and it kind of made us work harder in practice the last couple of weeks,” said Waters of the loss in the first meeting between the two teams. “When that went in the last time we played (Clarendon) we had it in the back of our minds. We came over here and played as a team. The second half I don’t think we needed as many threes and why shoot them when you’ve got a wide open drive.”
Charley Wilbur had 12 points for Wellington, all in the first half.
Clarendon didn’t have a single scorer in double digits, as Berkley Moore and Kashlyn Conkin both had nine points. Hayes came nowhere close to duplicating her heroics in the first game as she hit only one shot from the floor, a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter well after the issue was decided.
“We were out of sync to be honest for what felt like the whole game,” Clarendon coach Korey Conkin said. “”We felt like a step behind on defense and offensively we just couldn’t get anything going and had a hard time knocking the shots down. We knew (the Lady Rockets) were going to come back and give us everything they got.”
Wellington 13 25 35 52
Clarendon 9 22 28 34
W– Briley Waters 14, Charley Wilbur 12. C– Berkley Moore 9, Kashlyn Conkin 9. Records: Wellington 24-6, 9-1; Clarendon 30-2, 9-1.