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Blue Raiders defeat Bubblers again, advance to district semifinals Monday vs. Berks Catholic

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

717-944-4628
Posted 2/23/18

The Middletown boys basketball team hosted the Boiling Springs Bubblers on Feb. 6 in their next-to-last regular season game. The Blue Raiders had a rather easy time of it and ran past their guests, …

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Blue Raiders defeat Bubblers again, advance to district semifinals Monday vs. Berks Catholic

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The Middletown boys basketball team hosted the Boiling Springs Bubblers on Feb. 6 in their next-to-last regular season game. The Blue Raiders had a rather easy time of it and ran past their guests, 81-55.

But Middletown head coach Chris Sattele did not expect that outcome.

“That surprised me. Boiling Springs is a much better team than that,” he said following the lopsided victory that could have been a lot worse than the score indicated.

When the pairings came out for the District III-4A playoffs, Sattele and his team found themselves matched up again with Boiling Spring after both teams drew byes in the first round.

Sattele expected a tougher game this time, and that’s exactly what his team got Thursday.

The Bubblers shook off an early 7-0 Middletown lead, drew within two points at 17-15 at the end of the first period, and used a 22-17 scoring advantage in the second to earn a 37-34 lead over the Raiders at halftime. And that, of course, caused some concerns, not only among the Middletown team, but also throughout the big home crowd at the Blue Raiders’ gym.

But those concerns were quickly pushed aside when the Raiders exploded out of the halftime break with a 10-0 run to take away the momentum the Bubblers gathered in the first half. That quick start propelled the home team to a 19-6 advantage in the period and a 10-point lead to start the fourth.

The Raiders never let up after that, despite some foul issues in the late going. The end result was a comfortable 72-55 victory that earned the Blue Raiders a district semifinal showdown at Penn Manor High School against Berks Catholic, a team the Raiders beat in last season’s semifinal on a last-second shot by Ryan Hughes.

Those teams will play at 6:30 p.m. Monday. Win, and the Blue Raiders advance to the championship game at 7 p.m. March 1 at the Giant Center, against the winner of Bishop McDevitt (which upset No. 1 seed Lancaster Catholic on Thursday, 75-73) and Kennard-Dale. Lose, and the Blue Raiders will play for third place against the loser of McDevitt and Kennard-Dale at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at West York Area High School.

On Thursday, Hughes led all scorers with 26 points, topping Boiling Springs’ Dylan Lanoue, who finished with 23. Tre’ Leach added 18 points, Chris Plummer scored 12 and Kyle Truesdale chipped in 10 for the winners.

Lanoue scored 12 of his points in the second period to lead the Bubblers to the reversal that erased a 17-15 Middletown lead. Middletown’s last lead of the first half (25-24) came on a foul shot by Plummer with 4:02 left but the Bubblers had out-pointed their hosts 13-6 in the bottom of the frame to build a 37-31 advantage. Plummer’s trey, however, with 1 second left made it a three-point game and gave the Raiders a lift as they headed into the halftime break.

Sattele did not keep his team in the locker-room very long at halftime, saying what he had to say in just a few minutes before sending his charges back out. Whatever he did say apparently worked.

Brady Fox’s baseline basket off a Hughes pass just 7 seconds in got the home team started off on its 10-0 run that ended on a Hughes triple and a 44-37 Middletown lead. In between, Leach and Truesdale added points as the Raiders converted several defensive rebounds and a Bubbler turnover into the decisive streak. At the end of the third quarter, the Raiders held onto a 10-point lead, 53-43.

With the Middletown defense dominating on Boiling Springs’ end, the Bubblers had a tough time scoring and holding onto the ball. A steal and dunk by Lanoue turned out to be one of the few highlights for the visitors in the final eight minutes.

A three-pointer by Plummer and a Leach drive and foul shot off a Bubbler miss vaulted the Blue Raiders into a 64-49 lead with 3:50 left in the game. The Bubblers tried to rally and got to within 10, 65-55, with less than two minutes to play. But Truesdale converted a steal into two points, Hughes scored off a slick Fox-to-Plummer-to-Hughes connection and Tyler Petroski added a pair of free throws with 30 seconds left to wrap up the playoff victory.