WELLINGTON — All Wellington wants for Christmas is the first five minutes of Monday’s non-conference game with Norwalk back.
The Dukes spotted the defending Division II district champion Truckers 23 first-quarter points and, despite dominating on both sides of the court in the second half, couldn’t overcome that early deficit, falling 49-43 to Norwalk.
The Truckers improved to 6-2 while the Dukes dropped to 3-2.
Coming into the game, everyone expected to see a battle between Norwalk’s “Twin Towers” — 5-foot-9 senior posts Jada and Jasmine Thomas, who are also twins off the court — versus Wellington’s three 6-footers — Alexis Lehmkhul, Hope Diermyer and Jalen Gibbs — but it was Truckers guard Kaelyn Harkness who stole the show.
Harkness hit four first-half
3-pointers, allowing the Truckers to speed out to an early 13-0 lead with 5:42 remaining in the first quarter. She finished with a team-high 12 points. Jada and Jasmine Thomas were held to eight and nine points, respectively.
By the 2:43 mark of the first quarter, Norwalk had extended its lead to 20-3.
“They just overwhelmed us initially,” Wellington coach Nathan Morris said. “I didn’t feel like we turned the ball over a lot or played poorly, they just hit all of their shots.”
Norwalk connected on five of its first six field goal attempts.
“In the second half we did a better job of making them work on the offensive end and also of getting the ball on the inside,” Morris said. “We’re over the moral victory stage, but I really feel like we played a great game tonight. I’m extremely proud of how the girls battled tonight. I feel like the girls learned tonight there is a different pace to the game than what we see sometimes. I feel like we learned about what it is to play at that next level.”
Gibbs had a monster night for the Dukes. She led the team in scoring with 12 points, in rebounds with 10 and also had six blocked shots.
“It was tough because in the first half our shots were just not falling, our passes were off, everything was off,” Gibbs said. “We needed to gather ourselves to come back in the second half. We showed a lot about our character tonight to come back. We didn’t get down on ourselves.”
The Dukes trailed by 15 midway through the fourth quarter, but cut the deficit to 10 on Lexi Wright’s second 3-pointer of the night with 3:37 to play.
Gibbs scored with 1:25 left to make it 47-41 and cut the Truckers lead to four with 5.5 seconds to play with a layup off an offensive rebound.
Wellington outscored Norwalk 22-11 in the second half and held the Truckers to five second-half field goals.
Lehmkhul finished with 11 points while Diermyer added 10. Erin Frenk also had three blocked shots for the Dukes.
Bethany Cring, one of four three-year starting seniors in the Norwalk lineup, also finished in double figures with 10 points.
“Normally we don’t shoot the ball as well as we did in the first quarter, although lately we’ve been shooting it pretty well,” Norwalk coach Brock Manlet said. “We knew Wellington’s size was going to be a problem coming in and it kind of proved to be the case. It was important that we got off to the start we did because Wellington played extremely well in the second half.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Norwalk 49, Wellington 43
NORWALK (49): Mascie Horner 1-0-2, Olivia Ward 1-0-2, Bethany Cring 4-0-10, Katelyn Harkness 4-0-12, Jada Thomas 4-0-9, Jasmine Thomas 4-0-8, Joci Leto 1-0-2, Leah Malson 2-0-4. Totals 21-1-49.
WELLINGTON (43): Lexi Wright 3-0-8, Alexis Lehmkuhl 4-3-11, Jalen Gibbs 6-0-12, Hope Diermyer 3-3-10, Erin Frenk 1-0-2. Totals 17-6-43.
Norwalk 23 15 5 6 — 49
Wellington 6 15 7 15 — 43
Three-point goals: Norwalk (Harkness 4, Cring 2), Wellington (Wright 2, Diermyer). Field goals: Norwalk 21-52 (40 percent), Wellington 17-42 (40 percent). Free throws: Norwalk 1-7 (14 percent), Wellington 6-12 (50 percent). Rebounds: Norwalk 34, Wellington 27. Turnovers: Norwalk 18, Wellington 15. Total fouls: Norwalk 17, Wellington 129.
Junior varsity: Norwalk, 44-20.