Boys Basketball: Jupiter tops Wellington
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
by Post Staff
Evan Zabriski sauntered out of Jupiter's locker room, his sweat soaking through a white undershirt, his jet-black hair glistening in the hallway light.
The Jupiter forward's face revealed more than any answers he'd give to the media.
Beating a district rival in a heated Class 8A regional semifinal is tough. Beating them for the fourth time in four tries? Exhausting.
However it came, Jupiter's 53-32 closer-than-the-score victory over Wellington sent it to the state's Elite 8 for only the third time since 1966, and the first time since 2000.
Jupiter (25-4) will play at Broward County juggernaut Deerfield Beach, the seventh-ranked team in the state, in the Class 8A regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday.
"It's very big for us," said Zabriski. "Last year was so rough."
As in this season, Zabriski and Jupiter entered the 2011-12 season with high hopes. But that team lost a heartbreaking regional quarterfinal to Spanish River, and that loss still serves its motivational purpose.
Zabriski ignited a stagnant Jupiter offense, which shot 33 percent for the game, scoring 13 points off the bench. Point guard J.D. DePasquale, a senior better known for his ball handling and passing, made 13 of his 16 free throws and finished with 20 points.
That duo offset the struggles of leading scorers Mike Edgley and Grant Pelchen, who shot a combined 4 of 20 en route to 10 total points. But all four played major roles on defense, with Pelchen's 18 rebounds and five blocks as the highlights.
They made Wellington (20-9) hunt for every basket with the exception of a rare layup or two. The Wolverines shot 33 percent, too, but were soundly outrebounded.
Junior guard Dondre Duffus, a Player of the Year candidate, got 13 points on 5-of-12 shooting, but he didn't get the scoring help he usually does from his teammates.
Foul trouble saddled Duffus' accomplice, Stephon Gordon, replacing his usual aggressive style with a more reserved offensive presence. He only took three shots, making two, and finished with a quiet five points and four rebounds.
"Every 50-50 ball, they got," Wellington coach Matt Colin said. "Every loose ball ended up in their hands. If (DePasquale and Zabriski) are scoring and then you get (Pelchen) in the middle on defense, it's really tough on both ends. You have to sweat for every bucket."
Jupiter's #2 Grant Pelchan shoots between Wellington's #1 Nick Arena and #40 Shaquille Innocent at Jupiter High School on February 19, 2013. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)