WELLINGTON — Lutheran West had to feel pretty good at halftime Tuesday night at Wellington.
The Longhorns had secured a 13-point lead and appeared to be in control of their fifth straight Patriot Athletic Conference victory and sixth overall in nine starts.
But someone forgot to tell head coach Tom Eibel and his Dukes.
Wellington rallied to within a point and had opportunities to win before falling short, 52-48.
“At halftime, I wasn’t sure if we could come back at all,” Eibel said after his team fell to 3-6, 2-3 in the PAC. “We were down 13 against an excellent ballclub. They’re not undefeated in the conference for nothing and they really exploited us the first half by posting up our little guys.”
Adam Moses, who is 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, and slender, sleek 6-6 Stephon Seton had things going their way. Moses had nine points and Seton had seven by intermission and the two combined to crash the boards for a dozen rebounds to give the Longhorns a 18-14 edge in that department in the first half.
“I give credit to Wellington,” Longhorns coach Ray Durban said. “They fought hard, they were undersized and young. They tried to go to a small lineup and spread the court. It gave us a little problem.”
West’s lead grew to 43-29 with just over two minutes to play in the third quarter when Wellington made its run.
The Dukes started chipping away behind seniors Brandon Schmidt and Kenny Natterer. The two combined to score 12 of Wellington’s 16 third-quarter points to put a dent in the Longhorn advantage.
“We left a few points out there,” Durban said. “We missed some short shots. We didn’t execute very well on offense and started throwing the ball away.”
After a pretty clean first half, Lutheran West committed 10 second-half turnovers that enabled the Dukes to get back in it. When Schmidt drove the floor and scored on a layup off a Longhorn turnover, Wellington trimmed the margin to 49-48 with still better than a minute to play, but the Dukes wouldn’t score again. In fact, Wellington has managed to score over 50 points just once this season — a 52-42 win at Brookside just last weekend.
“You have to make your layups,” Eibel said. “We just didn’t do that. Maybe we will on Friday when Oberlin comes in. It just doesn’t come easy.”
Seton led the Longhorns with 13 points while Moses finished with 11, but neither scored a single point in the final quarter. Fortunately for Lutheran West, junior guard Louis Durban iced the victory by hitting three of four free throws in the final moments.
Schmidt had a career-best 20 points for Wellington, while Natterer chipped in 11. The two combined to clean the glass for 10 boards. Freshman Jason Perry added nine points and led the Dukes with seven rebounds.
Contact Tim Gebhardt at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lutheran West 52, Wellington 48
LUTHERAN WEST (52): Louis Durban 1-3-5, Caleb O’Hara 2-0-4, Cal Thomay 0-0-0, Stephon Seton 5-3-13, Adam Moses 5-1-11, Dan Bailey 2-1-5, Ben Lehrke 2-0-5, James Ranc 2-1-7, Zach Housmann 1-0-2, Ethan Olenik 0-0-0. Totals 20-9-52.
WELLINGTON (48): Justin Kidd 2-0-5, Robert Shays 0-1-1, Brandon Schmidt 8-0-20, Zac Gilbert 1-0-2, Kenny Natterer 4-1-11, Aaron Grimmett 0-0-0, Jason Perry 2-5-9, Devin Broadwater 0-0-0. Totals 17-7-48.
Lutheran West 14 19 12 7 — 52
Wellington 12 8 16 12 — 48
Three-point goals: Lutheran West 3-8 (Ranc 2, Lehrke). Wellington 7-17 (Schmidt 4, Natterer 2, Kidd). Field Goals: Lutheran West 20-47 (42.5 percent). Wellington 17-42 (40 percent). Free Throws: Lutheran West 9-14 (64 percent). Wellington 7-13 (54 percent). Rebounds: Lutheran West 32 (Moses 12). Wellington 29 (Perry 7). Turnovers: Lutheran West 14, Wellington 16. Fouls: Lutheran West 13, Wellington 16. Fouled Out: None.
Junior Varsity: Lutheran West 38-35.