FAIRFIELD — Wilmington High School boys basketball team opened Division I sectional play Tuesday night on a successful note, turning back Middletown, 50-46, at Fairfield High School.
The Hurricane will return to Fairfield Saturday night to play No. 3 seed Oak Hills at 7 p.m. with a berth in the district tournament on the line. The Highlanders defeated Edgewood 53-29 on Tuesday.
Dylan Beaugard, getting better with each healthy game, led all scorers with 18 points, 11 of those coming in the second half. Matt Smith connected on four long-range treys for a dozen points.
For Middletown Cliff Snow led with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Nelson Rutledge also scored 13 points.
The first half belonged to the Hurricane, who reeled off seven straight points to start the game, and built a 17-12 lead at the first quarter break. With a 13-5 effort in the second period, Wilmington held a 30-17 first half advantage.
“Our preparation was very good,” said WHS head coach Michael Noszka. “The kids came in ready to play. For much of the season we have struggled offensively, and I felt the first half was one of our better efforts.
The third quarter was a much different story, though, as the Middies came out of the locker room with an 11-0 run and they eventually tied the game at 39-39 after three quarters.
“They (Middletown) really came after us in the third quarter and we did not play our type of game,” Noszka said. “We missed layups and that led to some run-outs by them and they got on that roll to make it close.”
Wilmington turned up the defense in the final period, holding the Middies to nine points, and eventually put the game away with clutch free throw shooting (nine of 11 attempts).
It was Chris Wolary’s trey from the top of the circle that snapped the 39-all tie and put the Hurricane on top for good in the early minutes of the fourth quarter. Plagued by foul trouble much of the night, Wolary scored seven points for the ‘Cane and pulled down five rebounds. Jeffery Mansfield scored in double figures with 10, and had a team-high eight rebounds.
“Jeffrey got us going with the dunk and Chris (Wolary) knocked down the big three breaking the tie,” the Hurricane mentor said after the game. “Then Dylan took control and hit those clutch foul shots.
“But, I’ve got to say that everybody out there made contributions. Layne (Griffith) came off the bench and had a big steal and some deflections. Matt (Smith) hit those threes in the first half. Plus, Curtis (Gauche) played his heart out. I am proud of the kids because they have worked hard this year. Their attention to detail was great. Just take away what happened in the third period, they competed very well.”
February 28, 2017
@Fairfield High School
Wilmington 50 Middletown 46
(50) WILMINGTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Gauche 0-0-0-0 Smith 4-4-0-12 Beaugard 5-1-7-18 Mansfield 4-0-2-10 Wolary 3-1-0-7 Griffith 1-1-0-3 Wright 0-0-0-0. TOTALS 17-7-9-50
(46) MIDDLETOWN (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Rutledge 5-2-1-13 Snow 5-2-1-13 Jones 2-1-2-7 Strother 3-0-2-8 Jawunn Bailey 0-0-0-0 Jomar Bailey 2-0-1-5. TOTALS 17-5-7-46
FIELD GOALS: M 17-48 (Rutledge 5-15 Snow 5-15); W 17-40 (Beaugard 5-13 Smith 4-6 Mansfield 4-12 Wolary 3-5)
3 PT FIELD GOALS: M 5-14; W 7-14 (Smith 4-6 Wolary 1-2 Beaugard 1-2 Griffith 1-3)
FREE THROWS: M 7-10; W 9-11 (Beaugard 7-8 Mansfield 2-3)
REBOUNDS: M-32 (Snow 10 Jo Bailey 7 Strother 5 Rutledge 5); W-25 (Mansfield 8 Beaugard 6 Wolary 5 Smith 2)
ASSISTS: M-10 (Strother 5 Jo Bailey 2); W-14 (Beaugard 7 Gauche 2 Smith 2 Wolary 2)
STEALS: M-9 (Rutledge 4 Jones 3 Snow 2); W-4 (Beaugard 2)
BLOCKED SHOTS: M-3 (Jo Bailey 2); W-4 (Wolary 3)
TURNOVERS: M-10; W-14
Bill Liermann covers college and high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @lierjet