Senior forward Elijah Meredith believes living by the principles of "defense, togetherness and energy" fueled the Wellington boys basketball team's latest run to the regional tournament.

It might have been an even simpler formula than that, according to coach Artie Taylor.

"This time of the year, we told (the players) that you've got to get away from the thinking game and be instinctual," Taylor said.

"Everything is inside you. You know it all, you just have to go out and play basketball and enjoy the moment because you don't know if it's the last one. Enjoy it, play as hard as you can and make memories."

The second-seeded Jaguars made memories March 5 when they made quick work of third-seeded Berne Union 69-45 to win a Division IV district championship at Ohio Dominican. Wellington improved to 17-9 and advanced to play Fort Loramie in a regional semifinal March 10.

The winner plays Fairfield Cincinnati Christian or Jackson Center in a regional final Friday, March 13, at the University of Dayton, with the regional champion advancing to a state semifinal March 19 at Ohio State.

The last time Wellington was in Division IV, it lost to Cleveland Heights Lutheran East 43-38 in the 2017 state final. The Jaguars, who also were state semifinalists in 2016, competed in Division III the past two seasons.

Last season, Fort Loramie and Jackson Center met in a regional semifinal, with Jackson Center winning 30-25 before losing to St. Henry 46-43 in a regional final.

None of the teams in the Dayton regional were ranked in the final state poll.

"We haven't been down, but we just haven't been (in a district final since 2017) so it's definitely special and a milestone," Meredith said. "We're not done. I'm just glad I get to do it with a fun group of guys that are a really close-knit group."

Meredith had 19 points and seven rebounds against Berne Union to lead the Jaguars, who raced out to an 8-0 lead and led 17-7 after the first quarter.

After Berne Union scored the first basket of the second period, Wellington responded with a 12-1 run that included one 3-pointer apiece from Meredith and sophomore forward Chase Ouellette and two baskets by senior guard Connor Herrick.

Junior guard Marcus Stewart made three 3-pointers and finished with 13 points and Herrick and sophomore guard Chase Ouellette each scored nine points as the Jaguars won their sixth game in a row since losing 83-75 to Grandview on Feb. 11.

The Bobcats were the district's No. 1 seed and also won a district final March 5.

Wellington and Grandview would meet again if both teams win their respective regionals. The Jaguars beat the Bobcats 51-47 on Jan. 11 in the first round of MSL-Ohio Division action.

"You make shots and good things happen," Taylor said. "Our guys were locked in from the tip (against Berne Union). They've been locked in from the first tip of the districts.

"It was a couple years (since winning a district title) and it felt so good that it felt like the first one. I'm glad that we were able to bring one back to Wellington."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek