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MAHS boys basketball team falls in title game of their holiday tournament

Posted 12/31/19

After earning their third win of the season, the Middletown boys basketball team came up short in their quest for a tourney title in their own Holiday Tournament last weekend.

The Blue Raiders, …

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MAHS boys basketball team falls in title game of their holiday tournament

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After earning their third win of the season, the Middletown boys basketball team came up short in their quest for a tourney title in their own Holiday Tournament last weekend.

The Blue Raiders, now 3-6 on the season, topped Lampeter-Strasburg 59-36 on Friday night in the nightcap of the tournament’s first round to earn a title shot against Elizabethtown on Saturday. But the Bears were just a bit better and grabbed the trophy with a 55-44 victory in an afternoon matchup in the Middletown gym.

The three wins already surpasses last year’s win total of two.

Disappointed with the loss, the Blue Raiders will have to regroup as they head to western Perry County for a division contest with the Mustangs on Friday night. The pace will pick up speed the following week as local teams put the Christmas break behind them and the league competition heats up. They then have a week off, until Jan. 10, when they travel to Milton Hershey.

Middletown 59, Lampeter-Strasburg 36

Following the opening game of the Middletown Holiday Tournament, a game won by Elizabethtown on a last-second shot over Northern York, the Raiders took on 6-2 Lampeter-Strasburg in the nightcap Friday evening.

After getting off to a slow start, the Blue Raiders gradually settled in against the Pioneers and used a 43-22 scoring advantage in the second half to win going away.

“They (the Pioneers) started off with a 7-0 run and then we had a 7-0 run to tie the game early,” Middletown coach Chris Bradford said following the victory.

The Raiders had some trouble getting started and Lampeter-Strasburg took advantage by scoring the game’s first 7 points. Tajae Broadie made one of two free throws to break the string and then joined forces with Jules Nester and Omarion Fanus to close out the first period with their own run to tie the score at 7-7.

After the Pioneers went ahead 8-7 early in the second, Jarrod Pugh drained a three-pointer off an assist by Tate Leach and Nester hit a short jumper to give the Raiders a 12-8 lead. The Raiders would not trail again.

The Pioneers tied the game at 12 with 3:36 left in the second stanza, but Brock Welsh and Nester went back-to-back to push the Raiders back in front to stay. Lampeter-Strasburg top gunner Seth Beers was limited to just two points in the first half, held in check by the terrific defensive work from Tate Leach, T. J. Daniels and Fanus.

Up 16-14 to start the second half, the Raiders got an early score from Broadie off a Leach assist and then put together a 7-2 run on their way to a 25-16 lead with 3:22 left in the third. Broadie collected 7 of his 12 points in the period and the Raiders outscored their guests 16-11 to build their lead to 32-25 heading into the game’s final quarter.

In the fourth, Nester recorded 12 of his game-high 20 points to lead the Middletown offense, while the defense controlled the game on the Pioneers end of the court.

With 3:08 left and a 47-34 lead to work with, Bradford went to his bench. Fanus, Quintin Miles and Brandon Burgos each scored late as the Blue Raiders closed out the victory with a 10-0 run to lock up the win.

Elizabethtown 55, Middletown 44

The momentum earned in the win carried over into Saturday afternoon’s clash with Elizabethtown in the tournament championship game.

The Raiders worked their way to a 19-16 halftime lead over the Bears. Unfortunately, the Middletown squad could not maintain the advantage in the second half. The senior-dominated Bears proved to be too good after the break as they raced to the tourney crown.

Led by tournament MVP Elijah Eberly (20 points) and co-tourney all-star Ryan Parise (14 points), Elizabethtown outscored the Raiders 39-25 in the second half to win convincingly. For the home team, Tony Powell scored a team-high 15 points and Nester added 10 in the loss. Powell was named to the all-tourney team for his work on both ends of the court in the two-game set.

Powell started off the scoring in the game off a Leach assist and then broke a 2-2 tie three minutes later with a putback.

Two free throws by Nester gave the Raiders a 6-2 lead with 3:39 left. After the Bears scored 7 straight to gain a 9-6 lead Fanus hit a trey to tie it up and Nester added a late bucket to give the Raiders an 11-9 edge at the end of one.

Both teams missed a bunch of shots in the second stanza, but the Raiders earned an 8-7 scoring advantage in the frame to take a 19-16 lead into the halftime break.

The second half started off on the wrong foot for the home team. Stung by three straight turnovers to begin the third quarter, the Raiders saw their lead slip away. Eberly scored 4 points to ease the Bears in front 20-19.

Powell finally connected for the Raiders at the 5:48 mark for a 21-20 lead, but E-town’s Luke Peirson and Alex O’Shea went back-to-back to push the Bears back on top. Tymir Jackson’s follow tied the score at 26 at 3:45, and Powell again drew the Raiders even at 28 at 3:05. But a trey by Brody Beach and a goal by Eberly at 2:20 put the Bears ahead to stay. At the end of the third, the Blue Raiders were still in it, down 37-33.

With just less than six minutes left on the clock, Broadie’s putback pulled the Raiders to within three, 42-39. And Powell’s rebound bucket at 5:04 kept the point difference at three, 44-41. But the Blue Raiders’ hopes of a comeback rally fell to the wayside from that point on.

Taking advantage of a sudden scoring drought by the Raiders, the Bears put together a 6-0 run on their way to a 50-41 lead with 1:31 left in the game. Nester’s triple off another Leach assist made it a 50-44 game at 1:12, but that turned out to be the final points the home team would score.

The Bears closed out the game and locked up the win with a 5-0 string.