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Raiders close but can’t seal the deal; boys basketball loses 13th in a row

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

Posted 1/23/19


They did not win again last week, but the young Middletown boys took some steps forward in basketball action in spite of the losses.

Proof of that came first, in a hard-fought 69-58 …

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Raiders close but can’t seal the deal; boys basketball loses 13th in a row


They did not win again last week, but the young Middletown boys took some steps forward in basketball action in spite of the losses.

Proof of that came first, in a hard-fought 69-58 loss at Steelton-Highspire on Tuesday, and second, in a tension-filled 66-62 double overtime setback at East Pennsboro on Friday. In both games the Middletown coaches and fans got to see some of the potential of the youthful Blue Raiders, who stand at 1-13 on the season after winning their first game.

At this stage of the season, the goal is to see progress coming from a team that has just one senior and one junior among its ranks. The regular season is winding down to its final three weeks, and the team has just one victory to show for all its hard work.

A game scheduled against South Western at Gettysburg on Saturday was cancelled due to the weather.

On tap this week were scheduled games against Capital Division leaders Camp Hill and Trinity. Next week’s slate includes a road trip to West Perry on Tuesday and a non-league game against Pequea Valley on Wednesday. The Raiders will close out the season against Milton Hershey, Annville-Cleona and Lower Dauphin.

Steelton-Highspire 69, Middletown 58

Getting off to slow starts has been an unwelcome characteristic of the Blue Raiders through much of the season, and that was the case at Steel-High on Jan. 15.

The Rollers jumped out to an early 7-0 lead before a single foul shot by Tony Powell broke the ice. After the Rollers increased their lead to 9-1 on a bucket by Mehki Flowers, Tyler Petroski hit a three-pointer and then drove inside for another goal to cut the lead to three. A strong finish by the hosts, however, gave the Rollers a 22-12 lead heading into the second quarter.

With 6:10 left in the second stanza Petroski, Jules Nester and Powell kicked off a run of 7 straight points to pull the Raiders to within five, 26-21. In the point surge that followed, the Blue Raiders wracked up 18 points on their way to a 39-35 reversal on the scoreboard. The Raiders, led by Petroski’s 16 points and 7 by Nester, outgunned the Rollers 27-15 in the period before a buzzer-beating trey by Nyles Jones gave the hosts a 40-39 edge at the halftime break.

A 12-5 edge in the low-scoring third quarter kept the Rollers in front, 52-44, heading into the final frame. The Raiders made just two of 12 shots in the period to fall behind. But the Middletown squad stayed in contention throughout the fourth period, pulling to within 6 points, 57-51, on a trey by Nester with 5:50 left, and within 7, 61-54, on another triple by Nester at the 4:12 mark.

But the Steel-High defense was able to hold the Raiders to just 4 points the rest of the way to turn back the upset bid. Petroski recorded a game-high 30 points and Nester added 17 in the loss. Flowers, Jones and Erik Dickey teamed for 49 points for the winners.

East Pennsboro 66,  Middletown 62 (double overtime)

The Blue Raiders fell behind early against host East Pennsboro on Friday and gave the appearances of heading to a lopsided loss. But a second-half awakening on both ends of the court gave the Raiders an exciting comeback and several chances to pick up their second win of the season.

Their only victory came against the Panthers on Dec. 14 in their first action of the new season. But the Panthers, who also have been struggling this year, came out on their home court with revenge on their minds.

After going ahead 21-13 by the end of the first quarter and a 32-18 lead by halftime, it looked as if that revenge would be realized. The Middletown team, keyed by coaching adjustments on offense and defense, started the third quarter with renewed vigor, and their efforts paid off in a big way. By outscoring their hosts 25-15 in the third, the Blue Raiders trimmed East Pennsboro’s lead to just four points, 47-43, to start the final period.

Freshman Tajae Broadie scored the first 5 points of the fourth quarter to give the Raiders their first lead of the game with 5:23 left. After the Panthers regained the lead at 4:03 on a three ball by Nick Rush, Petroski tied it at 50-50 with a pair of free throws at 2:46.

A pair of East Pennsboro turnovers gave the Raiders a chance to go back on top, but four missed foul shots took those chances away. With 29 seconds left, Preston Powery’s triple gave the Panthers a 53-50 lead.

The Raiders got a break when Nick Karoly missed the front end of a one-and-one, denying the hosts a chance to lock up the win with 8 seconds left. With the clock running down to one second, Powell launched a bomb that banked in off the glass to send the game into overtime, the score knotted at 53.

In the first overtime, the Blue Raiders had another excellent chance to get the much-needed victory.

After overcoming a 56-53 lead by the Panthers with a goal and foul shot by Broadie that tied the score at 56-56, T.J. Daniels gave the team a one-point edge on a free throw with 2:21 left. And, then, after Powery made one of two free throws to again knot the score, Broadie scored on a drive to the bucket off a Petroski assist to give the Raiders a 59-57 lead with 19 seconds on the clock. Fouled on the play, Broadie went to the line but missed the foul shot. He did, however, grab the rebound as the Raiders maintained possession.

Nester was fouled with 15 seconds left and made his first shot to make it a 60-57 game. His second shot, however, did not drop, and the Panthers rebounded. As luck would have it for the Middletown squad, East Pennsboro’s Devin Shelenberger threw up a prayer at the buzzer that somehow found its way home, tying the score at 60-60 and forcing the second extra session.

The Raiders got off to a good start when Broadie made two foul shots with 3 minutes left to give his team a 62-60 lead. But that was all the Middletown offense could muster and the Panthers scored 6 straight points off of a turnover and three missed shots by the Raiders to lock up the win.

Broadie scored a game-high 22 points, and Petroski added 19 and Powell 11 for the Raiders.