WILMINGTON — The month of January has been kind to the Wilmington boys basketball team, as they have posted victories in six of their last eight games.
With a 66-62 win Saturday night over West Clermont, the Hurricane is now 7-7 on the year. Not bad for a team that started out of the gate slowly at 1-5.
“This game, I feel, was our best one of the year,” said WHS head coach Matt Kramer. “After we got off to the slow start (1-5) everybody was shoveling dirt on us and giving us up for dead. The young men have been so resilient and my staff has done a tremendous job to get us where we are now. Great leadership from our seniors, that has been the key. Ever since Christmas, we have really been doing well. It’s a matter of consistency.”
After the first quarter, the visitors from West Clermont held a 19-16 lead, but Wilmington turned it up, outscoring the Wolves 13-6, taking a 29-25 lead at halftime.
The teams battled even in the third period, with Wilmington getting a slight edge, 18-16, making it a 47-41 contest heading into the final period.
Matt Butcher buried a trey from the top of the key giving WHS a 53-45 advantage with 6:28 remaining.
West Clermont’s AJ Gillespie, who led all scorers with 29 points, fueled the Wolves fourth quarter stretch run with 12 points. Wilmington did not get the lead back to double digits until 2:00 remained in regulation, at 63-53.
Six different players scored for WHS in the final period. Kendal France, inserted into the starting lineup, had a pair of clutch baskets to help WHS get the lead to double figures.
However, Wilmington could not put the Wolves away, missing the front end of one and bonus situations three straight possessions.
After Gillespie hit a pair of three-pointers, Wilmimgton’s Luke Blessing converted on three of four free throws to help preserve the win in the waning seconds.
Blessing paced the Wilmington attack with 19 points, and Brandon Glass, with four treys, added 16 points. Brady Vilvens scored eight points. Collin Barker nailed a pair of three-pointers and converted both of his free throw opportunities, and impressed Coach Kramer with his contributions.
“Getting Collin back has been huge,” Kramer said. “He was being counted on to score perhaps in double figures and with his height, pull down five or six rebounds per game.
“It’s like we are just now getting everybody out there we were counting on. I am just so proud of these kids. They have given their best effort when asked and you can see the impact.
Looking ahead, next week will be pivotal for Kramer’s squad. “We’re calling it revenge week. First we’ve got Western Brown here on Wednesday, then head down to New Richmond on Friday.”
Jan 23, 2021
@Fred Summers Court
Wilmington 66 West Clermont 62
(62) WEST CLERMONT (2fg-3fg-ft-tp) Gillespie 6-5—2—29,Hamilton 2-0-0-4,Mentel 0-1-0-3, Hale 5-0-0-10, Clark 2-1-2-9, Stahl 0-2-0-6, Ziegler 0-0-1-1. Team Totals: 15-6-4-62.
(66) WILMINGTON H S (2fg-3fg-ft-tp) Butcher 2-1-0-7, Glass 2-4-0-16, Vilvens 4-0-0-8, Blessing 4-2-6-19, Baltazar 0-1-2-5, France 2-0-1-5, Barker 0-2-2-8. Team Totals: 13-10-10-66.
Bill Liermann covers college and high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @lierjet.