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Blue Raiders’ losing streak reaches 9; 3 close games but no wins for young squad

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

717-944-4628
Posted 1/9/19

The Middletown boys basketball team had several chances to break its winless streak last week but came up empty all three times as victories continued to elude the young Blue Raiders.

In the first …

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Blue Raiders’ losing streak reaches 9; 3 close games but no wins for young squad

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The Middletown boys basketball team had several chances to break its winless streak last week but came up empty all three times as victories continued to elude the young Blue Raiders.

In the first game, the Raiders took host Palmyra to overtime before falling in the extra period on New Year’s Eve afternoon. In a 66-59 loss to Steelton-Highspire on Thursday, followed by a 47-33 setback to West Perry on Friday, the Raiders had leads but could not finish. In those two, the team victimized itself with fourth-quarter fades.

The Blue Raiders fell to 1-9 on the season after starting 1-0, and first-year coach Chris Bradford is trying to turn things around for his youthful club that now has just one senior on the roster following the departure of three upperclassmen.

That has left the first-year coach with one junior, three sophomores and four freshmen to work with — no easy task in the competitive local basketball scene.

As a plus, the team does not play until this Friday, giving the coaching staff some much-needed practice time prior to hosting Milton Hershey.

Palmyra 82, Middletown 77 (OT)

The Blue Raiders played one of their best games of the season at favored Palmyra and had a chance to win in the final seconds of regulation. But a shot rimmed out instead, sending the game to overtime.

In the extra period, the Cougars got off to a great start and went on to outscore the determined Raiders 19-14 to lock up the hard-fought win.

The Raiders trailed by just one point, 16-15, after one quarter and were down by five, 31-26, at halftime.

The game appeared to be slipping away in the second half as the Blue Raiders put up just 10 points in the third and trailed by 10 heading into the final 8 minutes. But Tymir Jackson recorded 10 of his 20 points and Tyler Petroski added 7 of his 20 in the fourth to lead a 27-point explosion that ended with the teams battling to a 63-63 tie.

The last-second shot that could have won it for the Raiders missed the mark, however, forcing the overtime session.

Palmyra’s Jack Wagner, who registered a game-high 31 points, started off the extra period with a pair of triples and set the tone for the finish. Tajae Broadie collected 6 of his 15 points and Jackson added 5 in the overtime, but they were not enough to secure a Middletown win.

The Cougars dropped in 10 points from the foul line to ice it.

Jules Nester added 14 points for the Raiders.

Steelton-Highspire 66,
Middletown 59

On Thursday at home, the Raiders got off to a bit of a slow start against the visiting Rollers and trailed 16-12 heading into the second period. But an 18-10 scoring advantage in the second stanza erased Steel-High’s lead and eased the Raiders in front by halftime.

The Rollers made just two of 14 shots from the floor in the session while the Raiders forged ahead, keyed by a pair of treys by Petroski and one from Jackson that gave the home team a 30-23 lead with under a minute left in the first half. The Rollers picked up 3 late points, but the Middletown team held a 30-26 edge at the halftime intermission.

The Middletown lead held up (36-32) with 5:13 left in the third quarter, but three foul shots followed by a converted steal by Mehki Flowers at the halfway mark gave the Rollers a 37-36 edge. That lead was reversed by three straight baskets by the Raiders – two by Petroski and one by Jackson — as the home team forged back ahead 42-37 with 2:45 left. But the athletic Rollers took back the momentum and outscored their hosts 11-4 to gain a 52-46 lead heading into the final frame.

Petroski started off the fourth quarter with another triple off a T.J. Daniels assist and scored again following a Steel-High basket by Erick Dickey to make it a 3-point game with 5:12 left.

But, with the Rollers controlling the boards on both ends of the court and Flowers and Dickey teaming for 12 points, Steel-High used a 14-13 scoring edge in the fourth quarter to turn back the Blue Raiders’ bid for a much-needed victory.

Petroski recorded a game-high 27 points and Jackson finished with 18 in the loss. Dickey and Flowers each had 19 for the Rollers.

West Perry 47, Middletown 33

Frustrations continued to mount for the Middletown team on Friday as a winnable game against visiting West Perry slipped away in the fourth quarter.

Trying to hang onto a 28-27 lead entering the final 8 minutes, the Blue Raiders fell apart and the visiting Mustangs took advantage to cruise to the 47-33 win.

In the first quarter, the cold-shooting Raiders made just 2 of 9 attempts from the floor and turned the ball over four times as the offense faltered from the start. But the score stayed close because the Mustangs did not shoot much better, making just 5 of 13 shots.

As a result, the guests led 11-6 to start the second stanza. A good start, however, in period two saw the Raiders score 6 straight points for a 12-11 lead before West Perry answered with 5 to go back in front.

West Perry’s zone defense limited the Raiders to 5 points through the balance of the first half as several easy shots missed the mark. Although the Raiders earned an 11-9 scoring edge, the Mustangs led 20-17 at the break.

Petroski, Broadie and Nester teamed for 11 points in the third quarter and the defense forced 7 Mustang turnovers as the home team fought their way to a 28-27 edge heading into the fourth period. But, just like in the Steel-High game, the Blue Raiders faded on both ends of the court in the last 8 minutes.

West Perry took advantage and reeled off the first 8 points of the frame before Broadie’s drive broke the string at 5:02. Petroski made one of two free throws at 4:39 to make it a four-point game, 35-31, but that was all the Middletown offense would produce until Nester scored on an uncontested dunk as time expired. During that stretch, the Mustangs outscored the Raiders 12-0 to win going away.

Broadie’s 10 points were a team high for the Raiders while Caden Sutch collected a game-high 16 points for the winners.