WELLINGTON — Is there anything Max Joppeck can’t do on the basketball court?
The 6-foot-4 senior supplied an answer Thursday night by pretty much doing it in leading Wellington to a 75-58 win over Amherst in the opening round of the Dukes’ Gossman Insurance Holiday Tournament.
Wellington will play John Hay, a 77-61 winner over Open Door in Thursday’s first game, for the championship tonight.
Joppeck scored from inside and out, hit 14 of 17 free throws, pulled down 11 rebounds and had a career-high 33 points.
His goal is to help the Dukes (7-1) win the tournament for the first time.
“We knew we had to bring the pressure in,” Joppeck said. “Get out big and maybe win this tournament for the first time since I’ve been in high school. Try and make a statement out here. My senior year … (we) want to win this thing for the first time.”
Joppeck hit 3 of 4 3-pointers, made 5 of 9 2-pointers and was strong going to the basket, getting three and-ones.
“We talked a little bit after the Clearview game,” Wellington coach Dan Gundert said of the Dukes’ only loss. “We knew we had that loss at Clearview because he wasn’t on the floor (fouled out). He does so much for us. Little things too — he breaks pressure, he handles the ball against pressure, comes down and makes good decisions. He’s playing really well right now.”
Wellington ended up shooting 56 percent from the floor and were 8-of-15 from the perimeter. Amherst wasn’t that bad shooting (46 percent), but Joppeck was simply too much for the Comets (1-5).
“To control a good player like that, you’ve got to do everything right,” Amherst coach Pat Bray said. “We jumped and tried to block every shot he took. That’s not us. We have to make him make good shots. I don’t know how many foul shots he ended up shooting but they had 29 attempts, we had five.”
Wellington was 21-of-29 from the line, while Amherst was 3-of-5. Two Comets fouled out trying to contain Joppeck.
The Dukes also forced 14 turnovers and turned many of those into easy layups and even more and-one attempts. Mason McClellan had 10 points and Nathaniel Shelton nine off the bench. Colton Schmidt and Ryan Whitaker each grabbed five rebounds.
Alec Dimacchia led Amherst with 17 points and Ryan Hritsko had eight points and eight rebounds.
“This is the fourth year for this tournament and we’ve never won it,” Gundert said. “It’s definitely on our mind.”
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Wellington 75, Amherst 58
AMHERST (58): Kyle Ferguson 3-0-6, Troy Toth 1-0-2, Gehrig Gabrie 1-0-3, Ryan Hritsko 4-0-8, Alec Dimacchia 7-2-17, Matt Fairchild 2-0-4, Greg Rhodes 2-0-4, Austin Vukelic 0-0-0, Max Strausser 2-0-4, Gavin Darmos 1-0-3, Scott Iliff 3-1-7. Totals 26-3-58.
WELLINGTON (75): Ryan Whitaker 2-1-5, Noah Diermyer 1-0-2, Mason McClellan 4-0-10, Colton Schmidt 2-0-5, Max Joppeck 8-14-33, Nathaniel Shelton 4-1-9, Brandon Orozco 1-4-7, Ben Bliss 1-1-4, Zach Constantino 0-0-0, Parker Adler 0-0-0, Sam Becher 0-0-0. Totals 23-21-75.
Amherst 10 12 14 22 — 58
Wellington 21 17 16 21 — 75
Three-point goals: Amherst 3-9 (Gabrie, Dimacchia, Darmos), Wellington 8-15 (Joppeck 3, McClellan 2, Schmidt, Orozco, Bliss). Field goals: Amherst 26-56 (46 percent), Wellington 23-41 (56 percent). Free throws: Amherst 3-5 (60 percent), Wellington 21-29 (72 percent). Rebounds: Amherst 26 (Hritsko 8), Wellington 29 (Joppeck 11). Turnovers: Amherst 14, Wellington 13. Fouls: Amherst 22, Wellington 11. Fouled out: Fairchild, Rhodes.