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Blue Raiders keep fighting, but can’t pick up 2nd win in boys basketball

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

Posted 1/29/19

Trinity and Camp Hill are the two top teams in the Mid-Penn Conference’s Capital Division. They are also ranked first and second in the District III-AAA power rankings.

Although the …

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Blue Raiders keep fighting, but can’t pick up 2nd win in boys basketball


Trinity and Camp Hill are the two top teams in the Mid-Penn Conference’s Capital Division. They are also ranked first and second in the District III-AAA power rankings.

Although the Middletown Blue Raiders gave it their best against those two lofty teams last week, the outcomes proved to be predictable as they lost both contests in varsity boys basketball action.

On Tuesday in Camp Hill, the Blue Raiders came out on the short end of a 72-48 score against the host Lions. Friday at home against Trinity, a solid effort went unrewarded as the Shamrocks turned back the Raiders 55-36 to keep the Middletown squad out of the winning column.

First-year head coach Chris Bradford and his young Raiders team won their first game,66-52 on Dec. 14 over visiting East Pennsboro. Since then, they have lost 15 straight.

This week, the team was scheduled for a road trip to West Perry on Tuesday, followed by a non-league contest with visiting Pequea Valley on Wednesday before winding up the year against Milton Hershey, Annville-Cleona and Lower Dauphin next week.

Camp Hill 72, Middletown 48

The Blue Raiders got off to a good start at Camp Hill on Tuesday and held a 12-11 lead at the end of the first quarter. But the Lions outscored the Raiders 23-15 in the second for a 34-27 halftime lead.

The game really got away from the Middletown squad in the second half when the hosts recorded a 17-7 scoring advantage in the third quarter and a 21-14 edge in the fourth to cruise to the 72-48 win.

Tony Powell’s trey 50 seconds into the game gave the Raiders the early lead and Tajae Broadie’s putback at 6:30 gave the Raiders a 5-2 lead. After the Lions tied the game at 5, Broadie, T.J. Daniels and Tyler Petroski ran off 7 straight points to push the Raiders back on top 12-5. But the Lions scored 6 straight to close out the opening period and trailed by one, 12-11, heading into the second stanza.

Broadie’s bucket and foul shot gave the Raiders a 4-point cushion to start the second, but other than a triple by Petroski and a driving layup by Jules Nester, the Raiders hit a scoring slump in the middle of the frame. The Lions took advantage as Connor Trumpy scored 8 of his 17 points in the span to lead the Lions to a 25-20 lead with 2:40 left in the first half. Goals by Petroski and Jarrod Pugh kept it close, but the Lions worked up to the 34-27 lead by the halftime break.

Camp Hill’s defense caused problems for the Raiders from the outset of the second half and the Middletown offense had trouble finding the net, going just 1 for 12 through the first 5:34 of the third period while falling behind 44-31. Five late points from Broadie and Petroski helped cut the deficit to 12 points, but John Fagan and Will Ketterer added five points in the final minute to lift the Lions back up by 17 to start the fourth quarter.

Missed shots plagued the Raiders in the final frame as well, and the Lions were in their comfort zone on both ends of the court throughout the last 8 minutes. Nester scored 7 of his 9 points in the period for the Raiders, but the Lions picked up scores from seven players in their 21-point scoring binge to lock down the win.

Broadie finished with a team-high 13 points for the Raiders.

Trinity 55, Middletown 36

“That was the most fight I’ve seen from the team this year,” Bradford said following his team’s loss to visiting Trinity Friday night at home. “Other students were high-fiving and congratulating our kids after the game, showing they saw the effort, too.”

That assessment was spot-on as the Blue Raiders gave it their all in a gallant, but losing, cause against the top-ranked team in the division and district.

Battling back from a disappointing 19-3 deficit at the end of the first quarter, the Raiders played great defense and offense in the second and outscored the Shamrocks 18-9 to make a game of it. Although their scoring suffered in the second half (just 15 total points) the team never quit. Holding the Shamrocks to 55 total points in the game was proof of that.

Bradford and his assistant coaches, along with the fans, enjoyed and appreciated the effort.

In the first minute of the game, the Raiders got a scare when Petroski, the lone senior on the team, had to temporarily leave the game with a bloody lip. That had a visible effect on the team.

Petroski returned at the 5:11 mark but the offense could not get into a rhythm, scoring just 3 points in the first 8 minutes, while the Shamrocks recorded 19. Nine of those points came from senior Patrick Walker, who ended with a game-high 13.

But things changed in the second period.

“We threw some different defenses at them and it confused them a bit,” Bradford noted.

Trinity turned the ball over 10 times in the quarter and the Middletown offense cashed in by scoring 18 points in a near-flawless run as Petroski, Nester, Daniels, Tony Powell and Broadie put up points. The Shamrocks were limited to a trio of treys in the period.

The Raiders closed out the quarter with an 8-0 run to pull within 7 points, 28-21, at the break.

But the Shamrocks do not get outplayed for very long and, with the Raiders still down by 7 points with just less than 7 minutes left in the third quarter, Trinity turned up the defensive heat and ran off a 14-3 streak over the next 5:17 to regain control at 44-26. A deeper bench for the visitors proved to be the catalyst that keyed the run.

Down 47-29 to start the fourth quarter, the Raiders had chances to cut into the lead. But going 0-for-3 at the foul line in the first minute hurt those chances.

Nester’s layup at 5:16 broke the scoreless standoff from both teams, but Trinity scored 6 straight points, two baskets coming off Middletown misses, to lift their lead to 53-31 with 2:34 left on the clock.

Nester’s bucket and foul shot broke the streak, but Trinity’s Connor Moore went back-to-back in the final minute and Daniels closed out the scoring for the Raiders with 11 seconds left.

Nester led the Raiders with 12 points.