WENDELL • Call it a changing of the guard.
For several years Declo has been a dominant force in 2A, playing in a state title game and winning the consolation bracket a season ago. Their rival, Wendell, went to state in 2014 but went just 11-11 a season ago and has been somewhat of the “little brother.”
But in 2016 none of that seems to matter. Because right now it’s the Trojans’ world and the Hornets are just living in it.
In their first matchup of the season, Wendell and Declo exchanged blows early before the Trojans, now tied for second in the latest IdahoSports.com poll, wound up winning a 55-42 rout that wasn’t as close as the final score indicates. It was a contest that let everyone know that there is a new sheriff in the Canyon Conference.
“It feels really good,” senior forward Johnny Lancaster said. “It feels like we’re finally here.”
The first quarter was a back-and-forth affair between the rivals, who finished the period tied at 12 after Declo’s (0-9) Wyatt Homer hit a 3-point basket with less than two seconds remaining. But the second was all Wendell (10-1) as the Trojans notched the first eight points of the quarter en route to a 10-point lead into the half. Though the scoreboard indicated a double-digit lead for the Trojans heading into the locker room, it didn’t necessarily feel like a blowout at any point during the game to Wendell head coach Sam Kelsey.
“(Declo) came ready to play, and we knew that … This was probably one of our worst games so far,” Kelsey said. “Just persevering through the type of game it was. It was a rough game.”
Despite an admittedly bad showing, Wendell extended its lead to as many as 20 in the third and led by 17 heading into the fourth. The Hornets fought hard the entire game and cut the deficit to 14 less than two minutes into the final quarter and made some baskets late to tighten up the final margin. The scoring effort was balanced for Wendell, who received solid scoring contributions from Hunter Laudert, Logan Bowers, Johnny Lancaster and Bryce John. The quartet scored 15, 14, 12 and 11, respectively. Declo was paced by Keegan Duncan’s nine points.
“We did a lot of good things, but we have a long way to go,” Lancaster said. “A win is a win and we did a lot of good things.”
Though there are plenty of games left in the regular season, Wendell believes it has something special with this year’s group. A combination of experience and trust has made them a team to be reckoned with. And, perhaps as importantly, they’re confident in what they can do.
“We have a team that believes in each other,” said Kelsey. “There’s no negative around us right now, and that’s where you want to be.”
Wendell travels to Hagerman next Tuesday for its next game while Declo plays at Filer this Wednesday .
Wendell 55, Declo 42
Wendell 55, Declo 42
Wendell 12 16 16 11 — 55
Declo 12 6 10 14 — 42
Laudert 15, Bowers 14, Lancaster 12, John 11, Rocha 3. Totals: 19 12-20 55.
Duncan 9, Miles 7, Garrard 6, Baker 5, Briggs 4, Homer 3, Olsen 3, Ramsey 2, Osterhout 2, Webb 1
Totals: 16 8-14 42
3-point baskets: Wendell 5 (Laudert 2, Rocha, John, Lancaster), Declo 2 (Homer, Olsen)
Team fouls: Wendell 16, Declo 20