Parker Adler of Wellington defends a shot by Keystone's Jacob Shackelford in the fourth quarter. DAVID RICHARD / CHRONICLE
LAGRANGE — Keystone’s offense was clicking Friday night, especially from long range.
The Wildcats connected on half of their 3-point attempts, including five in a big first quarter that propelled them to a 57-51 win over Wellington in a battle for first in the Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division.
The win keeps Keystone (7-3) perfect in the PAC through six games, while Wellington falls to 6-4, 4-2.
“We were just trying to make the extra pass and we were making it,” said Keystone’s Ashton Waite, who had for four of the Wildcats’ eight 3-pointers and led them with 14 points. “We penetrated and kicked out. It was working. All of us can get hot really easy. We just try to feed each other.”
That was apparent in the opening quarter when Waite and Matt Mealwitz combined for five 3-pointers on seven attempts. Waite started the game by hitting his first three shots, all from long distance, and had nine of the Wildcats’ first 12 points.
Keystone’s only basket that wasn’t a three in the first quarter was a layup to give it a 2-0 lead. The only time the Wildcats trailed all game was when Mason McClellan connected on his only 3-pointer to make it 8-5. Waite and Mealwitz then combined to close the quarter on a 12-0 run.
“In the first half, we just mentally were not in it,” Wellington coach Dan Gundert said. “We didn’t locate shooters, we didn’t get hands on shooters and were giving them open threes. That’s a good basketball team, they can knock those down and we were just giving them rhythm threes. That’s the one thing we did not want to give them.”
Noah Diermyer led the Dukes with 26 points and connected on 5 of 13 from beyond the arc. Two of those threes came in the third quarter, the first bringing Wellington within five. But every time he gave Wellington a spark, Keystone had an answer — usually in the form of another 3-pointer.
In the third, it was Kollin Rodick who found his stroke, connecting on both of his 3-point attempts, including the answer for Diermyer to push the lead back to eight.
“This is a huge rivalry,” Diermyer said. “We all look forward to it from the beginning of the season. This is the one we’re thinking of. We missed a lot of shots we could have hit. We just missed some wide-open shots.”
Wellington forced five turnovers in the fourth quarter thanks to its press. The Wildcats shot just three free throws all game and didn’t make it to the foul line until the final 20 seconds.
“If we want to continue winning and fight for a conference championship, beating Wellington on our home floor is extremely important,” Keystone coach Jeff Holzhauer said. “We’re happy with the win and I was really happy with the way our kids executed offensively. We had a couple of slip-ups there at the end, but we were extremely efficient.”
Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him @CSweeneyCT on Twitter.
Keystone 57, Wellington 51
WELLINGTON (51): Ryan Whitaker 1-3-5, Noah Diermyer 10-1-26, Parker Adler 2-0-4, Mason McClellan 4-1-10, Brandon Orozco 1-0-2, Ben Bliss 1-2-4, Cole Standen 0-0-0. Totals 19-7-51.
KEYSTONE (57): Kevin Mealwitz 6-0-12, Matt Mealwitz 3-0-8, Mason Strader 1-0-2, Ashton Waite 5-0-14, Ethan Sokolowski 1-0-2, Kollin Rodick 5-0-12, Jacob Shackelford 0-0-0, Bryan Sayers 2-0-4, Sean Saterlee 1-1-3. Totals 24-1-57.
Wellington 8 12 13 18 — 51
Keystone 17 10 17 13 — 57
Three-point goals: Wellington 6-23 (Diermyer 5, McClellan), Keystone 8-16 (Waite 4, Matt Mealwitz 2, Rodick 2). Field goals: Wellington 19-47 (40 percent), Keystone 24-47 (51 percent). Free throws: Wellington 7-12 (58 percent), Keystone 1-3 (34 percent). Rebounds: Wellington 16 (Whitaker 5), Keystone 25 (Kevin Mealwitz 4, Sayers 4, Waite 4). Total fouls: Wellington 13, Keystone 15. Fouled out: Whitaker. Turnovers: Wellington 6, Keystone 11.
Junior varsity: Keystone, 49-24