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Young Blue Raiders girls squad loses in 3A quarterfinals, looks to next season

By Jason Maddux

jasonmaddux@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 2/28/18

The Middletown girls basketball team’s season ended Tuesday, Feb. 20, with a 64-48 loss to York Catholic in the PIAA District III Class 3A quarterfinals.

The Blue Raiders finished at 9-14 on …

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Young Blue Raiders girls squad loses in 3A quarterfinals, looks to next season

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The Middletown girls basketball team’s season ended Tuesday, Feb. 20, with a 64-48 loss to York Catholic in the PIAA District III Class 3A quarterfinals.

The Blue Raiders finished at 9-14 on the season.

“I thought we had a good year,” coach Ron Stetler Jr. told the Press & Journal. “I think there are some games that we feel like we could have won.”

In the game played at York Catholic High School, the host Fighting Irish pulled away in the second half.

Middletown led 14-12 after the first quarter and 27-25 at halftime. But York Catholic outscored the visitors 21-11 in the third quarter and 18-10 in the fourth to put the game away.

Sophomore Kate Fitzpatrick had another big game, scoring 25 points, including 3 of 5 on three-pointers. She added 6 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 assists.

Makaila Nester added 15 points with 4 rebounds.

Morgan Noon had 6 points and 2 rebounds. Joci Koser added 2 points, 3 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 assists to close out the scoring.

Jae Keller didn’t score but had 7 rebounds.

Fitzpatrick led the team in scoring this season, averaging more than 18 points a game. She already has more than 700 points in her career.

“I think she got better in sharing the ball and making decisions on the court. I expect her to get better because she puts everything into basketball … hard work, studies the game. She loves the game,” Stetler said of Fitzpatrick.

“Of course I wish we had some more wins but we play in a very difficult league and I thought we held our own with some very respectable teams such as Camp Hill, Trinity and Lower Dauphin,” Fitzpatrick told the Press & Journal.

Three seniors played their last game for Middletown: Nester, Noon and Erika Gonzalez. The team only had two juniors. The rest of the players were freshmen and sophomores.

Abbey Pilkey led York Catholic with 26 points.

Stetler said the lack of depth hurt the Blue Raiders all season, and it was a factor in the York Catholic loss.

“We competed until we got tired. That’s where we would end up losing the games,” he said. “When you get tired, you start to compensate by fouling or not doing things correctly on the floor.”

That depth was affected at the beginning of the season. Against East Pennsboro on Dec. 20, sophomore Caroline Gill suffered a severe shoulder injury while going up for a rebound and was lost for the year.

“We need more girls at Middletown to come out for basketball and try to develop players,” Stetler said, adding that only 15 came out. Many athletes — not just at Middletown but across the country — are choosing to play only one sport, he added, and that hurts the depth.

Fitzpatrick agreed.

“I hope to see many of our junior high girls come out to play so we can continue to build the program,” she said. “I love this game more than anything, and I can only hope that I can get my teammates to share in that love of the game.”

Koser likely will be the lone senior starter next season.

“She’s been a two-year starter. We’re going to expect her to get better,” Stetler said.

Fitzpatrick said she wants to work to become a better leader.

“I hope next season to not only get better with my basketball skills in the off season but to learn how to bring our team together,” Fitzpatrick said.

“We are all starting to bond as a team and that will be crucial for our success in the future,” she added.

Stetler said the team’s tough Mid-Penn Conference Capital Division games along with a tough non-league schedule helped get the Blue Raiders in the playoffs.

“I enjoyed coaching this group. Would we have liked to have done better? I think everybody would have. But this is a good group of kids who listened and I felt worked hard,” he said.