The Wildcats used some clutch free-throw shooting in the final minutes to take down Wellington by a score of 46-39 at home one Friday night.
El Dorado looked like the better team in the first quarter as they jumped out to an early lead and finished the first quarter with a 11-7 lead.
Due to foul trouble, the Crusaders were already in the bonus early in the second quarter, which helped them make a comeback. Wellington started the second quarter on an 8-0 run. Ethan Hanks knocked down a big three midway through the quarter, and another one before the half ended to cut Wellington’s lead to three,a s the Crusaders led 22-19 at halftime.
El Dorado turned the ball over three times in the opening minutes of the second half, which led to easy points for Wellington as the Crusaders started the second half on a 6-0 run. Ethan Hanks knocked down another triple to end the Wellington run.
Heading into the final quarter, Wellington held a 35-29 lead.
El Dorado’s defense put the clamps on Wellington, shutting them out in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter. Peyton Duryea grabbed an offensive rebound and a put-back layup to make it 31-35. Jarin Koehler followed with a crucial three-pointer to cut the Wellington lead to one point. 25 seconds later, Peyton Duryea got a steal, which he took down the court for a layup to give El Dorado their first lead of the second half with 4:15 left in the game.
Wellington quickly scored two baskets to go up by three.
Jarin Koehler was fouled twice with less than three minutes left and calmly knocked down four consecutive free throws to put El Dorado back up by one point.
In the final two minutes, Wellington was unable to get a bucket, while El Dorado knocked down six more free throws to earn a 46-39 win.
“That was one of the guttiest performances I've seen from us in a while,” said El Dorado head coach Jordon Regehr .
“Things could not have gone worse during the second and third quarters. I was so proud of our mental toughness to keep playing and do the things to keep us in the game. Our offense finally woke up in the fourth as we were able to get some shots to fall. Defensively, we played the scouting report perfectly and were able to get defensive rebounds down the stretch and make our free throws. That's one the more satisfying wins I've ever been a part of.”
The Wildcats made 16 free throws on 18 attempts, finishing 89% from the line.
Jarin Koehler led the Wildcats with 12 points. Peyton Duryea finished with 11. Ethan Hanks scored 9, and Adam Haines added 7. Cody Wittenberg finished with 5.
With the win, the Wildcats improve to 3-9 and will be in action again on Tuesday, Feb. 6 in Clearwater.