WELLINGTON — Nathan Starkey and Ethan Herman put on a defensive clinic Tuesday.
The Wellington guards caused clusters of first-half turnovers that resulted in a bunch of points in transition and led directly to the Dukes’ 85-48 rout of Black River.
It was a Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division victory in which Wellington (14-2, 12-1) remained a game ahead of Keystone in the division title race. It also saw the Dukes hammer the Pirates (1-14, 0-13) for the second time this season. Wellington won the first meeting 75-31 on Jan. 6.
“(Coach Dan Gundert) always tells us our defense is going to channel our offense,” Herman said. “Our plan was to get as much defensive pressure as we could, and our defense definitely channeled our offense tonight. When we start rolling, we can’t stop.”
It’s not like it was all about the Dukes’ defense, though. They staged a head-turning offensive show that saw them shoot nearly 60 percent from the floor, thanks in large part to the layups off Black River turnovers. The Pirates lost the ball 15 times in the first half, and Starkey and Herman forced most of them.
Eleven Dukes played and all of them scored, with four in double figures. Jason Perry scored a game-high 15 points, Starkey and Herman scored 13 apiece and David Clark finished with 10. The Pirates had no one with 10 points, although Tyler Potter scored nine, six in the second half. Gus Kazek and Dean Finkel each scored eight.
“Our game plan was to trap them, just run and gun, and we can play that pretty well,” Perry said. “We got a lot of fast breaks and Ethan Herman and Nathan Starkey did a great job for us. Our guards, you have to give them a lot of credit. They definitely picked up the tempo on defense.”
Wellington led 8-0 before the Pirates’ Andrew Vaughn ruined the shutout nearly three minutes in with his lone field goal of the game. The Dukes, who led 20-11 after eight minutes, led 43-18 at halftime.
Wellington scored 23 points in the second quarter, most of them in a 13-0 run that made the score 41-14. It was the Dukes’ most productive period on a night that saw them score at least 20 points in every quarter.
“It helped us a lot tonight with (Herman and Starkey) making steals out front,” Gundert said. “After that, they were being unselfish, making that extra pass to get a better shot. So many times in the first half we had a good shot and made an unselfish pass and got a great shot. That’s what really gave us momentum.”
Black River coach Don Brunker said he liked the way his team continued to hustle despite the lopsided score.
“None of our kids quit,” he said. “I could go right down the line and each of them at the end of the game continued to defend, continued to be out pressuring the ball, trying to be in the right position.
That’s what we need. We have to be willing to do the right things, regardless of the score, regardless of the situation.”
Contact Bob Daniels at firstname.lastname@example.org.