WELLINGTON — Dan Gundert can handle certain things — a missed shot or the occasional errant pass for example.
But a lack of energy is the one thing that irritates and disappoints the second-year Wellington coach.
A slow start to both halves did in the Dukes on Tuesday night as they dropped a Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division game 79-67 to Buckeye.
“I didn’t think we played with any energy … I thought we were real flat,” Gundert said. “The ball didn’t bounce our way, but that’s the game of basketball. We need to get some more energy, effort and movement offensively.”
Trailing by six points, Wellington (3-2, 3-1 PAC) was outscored 20-9 in the opening six minutes of the third — 10 of those points coming from Bucks guard Matt Cox, who finished with 16 second-half points.
But the Dukes weren’t finished yet.
Down 59-48 early in the fourth, Wellington guard Dylan Kidd hit one of his four 3-pointers to spark a run that — after an offensive put back and a transition layup by backup post Tim Young — would make it a 63-57 deficit with 3:22 remaining.
But the Dukes couldn’t keep the momentum flowing, as Cox scored a pair of baskets and teammates Ryan Grauel and Garrett Beck closed out the game at the free throw line. Beck led the Bucks (3-2, 2-2) with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
“We talked about wanting to cut it down and getting some stops, and we didn’t get that done tonight,” Gundert said. “You can’t give up 79 points in any game and expect to win, but that’s a credit to them. (Buckeye) beat us up and down the floor, beat us to every loose ball, and they played harder than us tonight, bottom line.”
Besides Kidd, Wellington had three other players — Dave Clark (16 points, five assists), Dylan Weidrick (12 points, 12 rebounds) and Young (11 points) — in double figures, but were unable to pull closer than three after falling behind by 10 early in the game.
“It seemed like we couldn’t get the ball swung side-to-side, and it was a lot of pounding the ball on the floor with one guy,” Gundert said. “That’s not how we play and these guys know it. We’ll correct it, but credit to (Buckeye), they did a great job on us defensively.”
While the result was disappointing, Gundert was quick to put everything in perspective.
He still wants to see more life out of his squad from the opening whistle.
“There’s a lot of basketball left to be played, but you want to get every victory you can,” he said. “Dylan hit some shots there when we did make our run, but I just wasn’t happy with our effort tonight, and these guys know it in our locker room. We just have to play with more energy.”
Buckeye 79, Wellington 67
BUCKEYE (79): Ryan Grauel 2-5-7, Garrett Beck 7-5-19, Cory Inman 4-4-14, Matt Cox 8-0-16, Jeff Miller 1-2-4, Mike Bacho 4-0-12, Curtis Kinney 3-0-6, Nick Prest 0-1-1, Jimmy Vealey 0-0-0, John Tighe 0-0-0. Totals 28-17-79.
WELLINGTON (67): Dylan Kidd 10-3-27, Jacob Grummett 0-0-0, Dave Clark 7-2-16, Joey Holliday 0-0-0, Dylan Weidrick 5-2-12, Tim Young 5-1-11, Tony Walker 0-1-1, Jujuan Howard 0-0-0. Totals 27-9-67.
Buckeye 20 14 25 20 — 79
Wellington 15 13 17 22 — 67
Three-point goals: Bacho 4, Inman 2, Kidd 4. Rebounds: Buckeye 33 (Beck 10), Wellington 28 (Weidrick 12). Assists: Buckeye 15 (Grauel 5), Wellington 10 (Clark 5).
Junior varsity: Buckeye, 71-35.
Contact Dan Brown 329-7135 at email@example.com.