WELLINGTON — Fifth-seeded Wellington wasted little time jumping on Wickliffe in the Division III North Ridgeville sectional opener Wednesday night.
The Dukes scored the first 10 points en route to a 54-19 victory over the 11th-seeded Blue Devils.
The Dukes (16-6) will hit the road Saturday, heading to Kirtland to face the third-seeded Hornets in the sectional final at 1 p.m.
“This was a good one for us, this was the third straight year with a tournament win for our juniors and seniors,” Wellington coach Nathan Morris said. “This was a total team effort. We were a little sluggish, but we got the job done.”
Boy, did they ever, pounding the ball inside to Jalen Gibbs in the first half as she scored all 14 of her points. Wellington took a 15-5 lead at the end of the first quarter and carried a 30-11 lead into the locker room at the half.
“We really moved the ball around well and just kept looking inside and out,” said Gibbs, who grabbed six rebounds and had a pair of steals. “We knew they were a small team and that we had height over them. We figured we would be getting a lot of offensive and defensive rebounds, too.”
The Dukes did just that with a 36-23 rebounding advantage, including 14 boards on the offensive end. Wellington’s height on defense caused plenty of problems for the Blue Devils, who had eight shots blocked.
The only Wickliffe (8-15) player who had any luck against the Dukes defense was junior Stephanie Martin, who scored 17 — all but two of the points for the Blue Devils.
After Wellington pounded the ball inside for the first two quarters, Lexi Wright lit it up from the 3-point line. She nailed four threes as Wellington scored the first 16 points of the third quarter to run the score to 46-11.
“We knew that if we moved the ball around we would get better looks either inside or outside to make it easier on us to shoot,” said Wright, who finished with a game-high 18 points on six 3-pointers. “They tried pressuring inside too much and that left us with some good looks from the outside and we were able to knock down the shots.”
The Dukes were steady shooting all night, hitting 23-of-51 (45 percent) from the field while holding Wickliffe to just 7-of-33 (21 percent).
“We took advantage of that (height advantage) right from the get-go,” Morris said. “The girls did a good job looking for Jalen and Erin (Frenk) on the inside and we got some easy buckets early.
“Any time you can hold someone under 20 points it’s a really good effort and I’m really proud of the girls and what they did tonight.”
Wellington 54, Wickliffe 19
WICKLIFFE (19): Stephanie Martin 6-5-17, Georgia Zele 1-0-2, Bridgett Burkett 0-0-0, Sierra Chase 0-0-0, Haylee Timothy 0-0-0, Julianna Bohla-Kolencik 0-0-0. Totals 7-5-19.
WELLINGTON (54): Brooklinn Damiano 3-0-6, Grace Dudziak 0-0-0, Julia Molek 1-0-2, Jill Sizer 0-0-0, Jalen Gibbs 7-0-14, Lexi Wright 6-0-18, Jill Laposky 2-2-6, Jenna Calfo 0-0-0, Maddie Caudill 0-0-0, Teddi Hardoby 0-0-0, Erin Frenk 2-0-4, Amanda Spiekerman 2-0-4, Ally Zvara 0-0-0, Payton Regal 0-0-0. Totals 23-2-54.
Wickliffe 5 6 4 4 — 19
Wellington 15 15 18 6 — 54
Three-point goals: Wickliffe 0-6 (0 percent), Wellington 6-18 (33 percent, Wright 6); Field goals: Wickliffe 7-33 (21 percent), Wellington 23-51 (45 percent); Free throws: Wickliffe 5-12 (42 percent), Wellington 2-4 (50 percent); Rebounds: Wickliffe 23, Wellington 36; Turnovers: Wickliffe 16, Wellington 8.