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Blue Raider boys basketball gets big road win at West Perry

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

717-944-4628
Posted 1/8/20

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

There’s nothing better than to start off the new year on a positive note. And that’s exactly what the Middletown boys basketball team did …

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Blue Raider boys basketball gets big road win at West Perry

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There’s nothing better than to start off the new year on a positive note. And that’s exactly what the Middletown boys basketball team did for itself last Friday night, securing a victory over West Perry in their first action of 2020.

The 59-38 win, their fourth of the season, came on the Mustangs’ home court and made the hourlong ride in the mist and fog much more enjoyable for the Raiders team and head coach Chris Bradford.

The Raiders will need to parlay that lift into confidence and momentum as they continue Mid-Penn Conference Capital Division play on Friday at Milton Hershey. On Saturday, the team will participate in the Lancaster-Lebanon League vs. Mid-Penn Conference showcase at Manheim Central High School.

The Raiders will face off against Elizabethtown, the team that won the Holiday Tournament title game against the host Raiders on Dec. 28. The rematch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

Over the years, Middletown teams have not always played their best at West Perry, and the start of Friday’s game appeared to be heading that way again. After a slow start, the Blue Raiders (now 4-6 on the season) scored first on a baseline goal by T.J. Daniels at the 6:38 mark of the first period. But, led by sharpshooter Jordan Erbacher, who put up 8 of his game-high 22 points in the first frame, the hosts earned an 11-6  lead after one quarter.

Erbacher recorded his third triple of the game to start the second stanza for a 14-6 lead for his team as a “here we go again” murmur sifted through the faithful Middletown fans. But that turned out to be the end of West Perry’s dominance.

Brock Welsh’s putback at the 7:02 mark kicked off a pivotal 12-0 run by the Raiders that swung the fortunes in Middletown’s favor. The Middletown defense picked up the pace and, because of that surge, the Blue Raiders turned two Mustang misses and three turnovers into 10 straight points and a 20-14 lead with 44 seconds left in the first half.

Welsh scored again. Jules Nester, Tajae Broadie and Tony Powell added points and Daniels’ putback capped the streak as the Raiders charged ahead.

Yet another trey by Erbacher broke the string with 28 ticks left, but Powell went back door for a goal and Broadie converted his own steal into a buzzer beater that lifted the visitors to a 24-17 edge at halftime. During the eight-minute span, the Raiders did not commit a turnover and dominated the boards on both ends of the court.

The defense led the way from the outset of the third quarter, and the Blue Raiders scored the first 5 points of the frame to expand their lead to 29-17. Nester’s breakaway layup off a Tate Leach steal was followed by Daniels, who made one of two foul shots at 6:57. Following a block by Broadie, one of a handful the big sophomore recorded in the game, Nester drove down the court and then passed to Broadie in the low post to cap the short run. In the last five minutes of the third, Powell, Nester, Tymir Jackson and Derrick Wall scored to push the Raiders to a 44-31 lead at the end of three.

In the fourth quarter, Erbacher was held scoreless by the dogged defensive work by Leach and his teammates. In fact, the relentless Middletown defenders held their hosts to just 7 points in the final eight minutes as the Mustangs came up empty time after time.

Bradford, with his team leading comfortably 54-34, started clearing his bench with just more than three minutes left in the game. Prior to that, Omarion Fanus hit a three, Wall popped in a jumper, Jarrod Pugh converted a Wall assist into a bucket and Broadie made one of two free throws to put the game out of reach.

Quintin Miles and Fanus scored 5 late points while teammates Welsh, Ryan Goff and Brandon Burgos kept up the defensive pressure.

Powell led the Middletown scoring with 12 points while Broadie and Nester teamed for 20 in the win. In all, 10 Middletown players added points to the scorebook.

JV team picks up second victory

Some of the frustration that surrounded junior varsity coach Andrew Placeres and his basketball team carried over into Middletown’s game at West Perry on Friday night.

The struggles the team has been dealing with that resulted in just one other win prior to the game showed against the Mustangs. 

But, after trailing throughout most of the game, and falling behind by as many as a dozen points in the second half, the young Blue Raiders rallied to a come-from-behind victory. 

After slowly pecking away at West Perry’s lead into the fourth quarter, the Raiders’ revived efforts netted the squad its second win of the season, 45-43.

Dylan Ruiz scored all 21 of his team-leading points from beyond the three point arc to key the win.

After Braelan Huber’s clutch three-pointer tied the score at 43 with 1:01 left, the Middletown defense shut out the Mustangs the rest of the way. Matt Wagner’s layup with 17 seconds on the clock proved to be the game winner for the Raiders.