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Bradford seeks better year for MAHS boys basketball

Posted 12/4/19

Chris Bradford’s first year as the head coach of the Middletown boys basketball team was a long, trying one.

Following a good run at Annville-Cleona, Bradford knew coming in to the post …

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Bradford seeks better year for MAHS boys basketball

Posted

Chris Bradford’s first year as the head coach of the Middletown boys basketball team was a long, trying one.

Following a good run at Annville-Cleona, Bradford knew coming in to the post that he had a lot of rebuilding to do with the Blue Raiders, who had good success under predecessor Chris Sattele.

But, despite his efforts and the hard work of the players who stuck around, the team produced just two wins in the 2018-2019 season.

Bradford’s plan now, of course, is to rebound from that rough start. The Raiders finished up last year with just one senior on the roster and, although the senior class is again small, his underclassmen logged a lot of minutes, which should translate into better results.

“There is a lot of competition in practice for minutes, and it’s got to continue to bring the best out of our team,” he said.

The one major advantage he has is that, although the football season unfortunately ended earlier than it had the past three years, Bradford was able to work with a full compliment of players right from the first practice. In all, 12 varsity players put away their pads, helmets and cleats from football and quickly made the transition to sneakers and shorts.

Another plus is the addition of senior guard Omarion Fanus, who returned to Middletown after being away for a couple years. Fanus, a 6-foot guard, has shown he can be a leader in the new season.

Also returning are 6-foot-3 senior forward Jarrod Pugh, 5-foot-11 junior guard Julian Nester, 5-foot-10 junior T.J. Daniels, 6-foot-3 sophomore Tony Powell, 5-foot-7 senior Ryan Goff, 6-foot-4 junior Brock Welsh, 5-foot-8 sophomore A.J. Stains, 6-foot-4 sophomore Tajae Broadie and 5-foot-6 sophomore Tate Leach. Junior Tymir Jackson, who left during last season, has come back, too.

The group includes starters from last winter and other players who earned valuable varsity minutes.

Also in the mix for varsity time are 6-foot junior Julio Rodriguez, 6-foot-4 sophomore Matt Wagner, sophomore Caden Paul, 6-foot-1 junior Derrick Wall, and 6-foot-2 senior Brandon Burgos.

There is also a good group of others who are competing for starting spots on the junior varsity squad that is led by coach Andrew Placeres. Dan Polachek and Chris Hughes are also on the coaching staff, helping Bradford evaluate players. Among them are Arkel Batts, Seth Smith, Braelan Huber, Jay Smith, Dylan Ruiz, Bamm Appleby, Aiden Miles, Ryan Souders and Quintin Miles.

The Blue Raiders scrimmaged Elizabethtown last week and Bradford got a good look at how his players could compete against a very good Bears team.

“For a first scrimmage, some things we hoped to see, we saw — great energy, guys didn’t go sideways when adversity hit. And they picked each other up,” he said. “I ran groups on and off, giving most guys an opportunity to get on film. It was very physical, which both E-town’s coach and the referees commented on — but not a dirty, uncalled for way. Getting after it and being tough. We didn’t have that last year,” he noted.

“Now we will work towards an 8-9 guy rotation for the (upcoming) Donegal games,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do, but the things we can correct: alignment, screen game, rotations and knowledge of our systems ... we are confident our guys are up to the challenge.”

The Mid-Penn Conference will remain in place as it has for this season but changes are coming in the next school year. For now, the Capital Division has Middletown, Camp Hill, East Pennsboro, Milton Hershey, Steelton-Highspire, Trinity and West Perry making up the division.

Changes next school year in the Mid-Penn will see East Pennsboro leaving the Capital for the Colonial Division. Also, Milton Hershey will move from the Capital to the Keystone. Big Spring will join the Capital, leaving it with six teams.

The Blue Raiders start off the new season at the Donegal High School Tip Off Tournament on Dec. 6-7 and will jump into division play on Dec. 10 at Steel-High.

Middletown will play host to its own Holiday Tournament on Dec. 27-28.