A high-energy Phoenix boys basketball team sailed Friday into the next round of the Division III district tournament with a 73-40 win over the Wellington Dukes.
The Oberlin High School gymnasium was packed with only standing room left for the Phoenix’s first time hosting a tournament game.
The Dukes scored the first two points of the game — their only lead they would hold in all 32 minutes of the playoff showdown.
Oberlin went on an eight-point run with the help of junior Donald Johnson’s strong defense in the paint. He had two blocks in the first three minutes of play and eight blocks on the night.
Junior Trey Bealer kept the Dukes in the game, scoring nine of their 13 points in the first quarter and driving to the basket all night. Bealer led his team with 15 points, five rebounds, and went 7-11 at the foul line.
The Phoenix switched to a full court pressure defense in the final two minutes of the first period and were able to force turnovers and steal the ball to take a 19-13 lead.
Oberlin extended its lead to 27-18 with under four minutes to play. The Dukes were able to force turnovers but could not capitalize on Phoenix mistakes.
Wellington trailed 31-22 at halftime.
Oberlin came out with a faster pace at the start of the second half and played tight man-to-man defense, giving the Wellington boys little room to work.
Trevor Porter stepped up for the Dukes in the final two periods, scoring 11 points and finishing the night with 13 points, five rebounds, and two blocks.
Johnson’s strong presence in the paint continued in the second half on both ends of the court and junior Caleb Hughley controlled Oberlin’s offense. The two Phoenix players combined for 13 points in the third quarter and both led their team with 18 points on the night.
Hughley also had five assists, six rebounds, and went 3-4 at the line. Johnson had seven rebounds and was perfect at the line, going 2-2.
Oberlin was able to hold Wellington to eight points in the final period as the boys continued to read every play the Dukes tried to run.
“The kids really played extremely well tonight,” said Oberlin head coach Kurt Russell. “I thought defensively holding the team to 40 points is really good. I thought we took it to Wellington.”
Russell said he was proud of how his team played and liked that so many players stepped up to contribute to the victory over the Dukes.
The Phoenix outscored the Dukes 42-18 in the second half to advance to the semifinals round.
The boys will play at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 29 against number three seed West Salem Northwestern.
Photos by Russ Gifford | Oberlin News-Tribune Caleb Hughley makes a fast break in Friday’s playoff game against the rival Wellington Dukes. Oberlin took a 73-40 win to advance.