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Middletown boys basketball team heads into holiday break at 2-2

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

717-944-4628
Posted 12/27/17

The Blue Raiders enjoyed an easy 71-56 win at East Pennsboro last Wednesday evening but were dealt a 50-46 overtime loss at Bishop McDevitt on Friday to even Middletown’s record at 2-2 heading …

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Middletown boys basketball team heads into holiday break at 2-2

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The Blue Raiders enjoyed an easy 71-56 win at East Pennsboro last Wednesday evening but were dealt a 50-46 overtime loss at Bishop McDevitt on Friday to even Middletown’s record at 2-2 heading into the Christmas break.

They were scheduled to host a holiday tournament Dec. 27 and Dec. 28 at home in a return to action on the hardwood courts.

The win at East Pennsboro was a bit of a respite following the tense Steel-High clash Dec. 18. Against the Rollers, the Raiders erased a 10-point Steel-High lead with 6:37 to play and pulled off the win in the closing seconds. A “large fight” that broke out after the game among fans is being investigated by Swatara Township Police, and charges are expected to be filed.

Friday’s encounter at McDevitt turned out to be an interesting and sometimes quirky crossover contest that the Crusaders eventually won by outscoring their guests 13-9 in the extra period. The game matched McDevitt coach Mike Gaffey against Middletown’s Chris Sattele, who played for Gaffey at Palmyra several years ago.

In last year’s meeting, the Blue Raiders claimed a 78-70 triumph over the Crusaders.

Middletown 71. East Pennsboro 56

Coming off the emotional and physically taxing win at Steel-High on Monday, the Blue Raiders appeared to be a bit sluggish on Wednesday at East Pennsboro. The Panthers, with a 1-4 overall record coming into the game, outplayed the Raiders in the first quarter, well enough to earn a 19-15 lead after the first eight minutes. Nick Karoly’s 7 points paced the Panthers that staked the early advantage.

But the Blue Raiders really came to life in the second stanza, erupting for 23 points on offense and clamping down on defense, to take control of the Mid-Penn Conference Capital Division contest.

Ryan Hughes collected 10 of his game-high 21 points in the frame and the Middletown defense forced 10 turnovers to key the resurgence.

The Panthers were limited to just 5 points in the period and made just one of 9 shots from the floor.

Along with Hughes, five other Middletown players scored for the Raiders. A goal by Hughes kicked off a 9-0 run by the Blue Raiders to start the second quarter.

Chris Plummer and Antonio Gamble added points from the foul line in the run.

Another scoring string by the Middletown squad, this one totaling 8 points, pushed the lead up to 38-22 before East Penn’s Jake Madden scored with 2 seconds left.

The Blue Raiders put the game away with yet another scoring run to start the second half. Hughes registered the first 5 points, Tre Leach converted a steal into a driving basket and Plummer’s breakaway dunk capped the run. That streak pushed the visitors up to a commanding 45-24 lead with 6:53 left in the third quarter.

Sattele went to his bench after that and the Panthers did manage to pick up 11 points in the second half of the quarter to gain some ground. But, the Raiders still led by 17 points heading into the fourth period.

Middletown’s starters came back into the game for the first few minutes of the final frame and then went back to the bench with 5:40 left after padding the lead to 65-42. The Panthers closed out the quarter with 14 points but came up well short of overcoming the big Middletown lead. Plummer finished the game with 19 points.

Bishop McDevitt 50, Middletown 46 (overtime)

Sattele really raised some eyebrows with his game plan at McDevitt on Friday. After his team fought its way to a 12-10 lead with 2:20 left in the first quarter, and had regained possession following a McDevitt turnover, Sattele had his team freeze the ball to close out the period.

A last-second shot by the Raiders missed the mark and the 12-10 score carried over into the second period.

And that was when the extended strategy had fans from both sides watching in awe. With the possession arrow in their favor, the Blue Raiders again held the ball in a four-corners setup. Gaffey decided to have his defense sit back as Leach held the ball without moving for 7 minutes and 50 seconds. But, again, a last-second shot by Hughes missed the mark and the half ended with the Raiders holding their 12-10 lead.

Coming out to start the third period, the Crusaders had the ball and McDevitt’s Tarajae Davis scored from the baseline at 7:43 to tie the score at 12. Plummer’s tap-in off a Raider miss gave the lead back to the Middletown at 14-12 nearly a minute later.

From that point on, the contest turned into a cat-and-mouse game and the two teams jointly collected 28 points in the frame. The Raiders held a slight upper hand with 15 markers that led to a 27-23 Middletown advantage by the end of the segment.

Jerrod Myers came off the bench for the Raiders and hit a pair of threes to lead the way.

With 5:34 left in the game McDevitt’s Jake Kelly hit a big three-pointer that tied the score at 28 and set the stage for a wild finish.

The Raiders lost ground over the following two minutes and the Crusaders took advantage with an 8-1 surge to go ahead 36-29 with 3:20 left. But the Raiders clawed back and closed out the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run to tie the game.

Hughes knotted the score by converting a steal with 50 seconds left but missed what could have been the go-ahead point. A steal by Kyle Truesdale with 42 seconds left also went unrewarded when the Raiders also lost the ball as time ran down and the game went into the extra four-minute session.

The real undoing for the Middletown side came at the foul line. The Raiders made just 3 of 9 in the fourth quarter and just 2 of 6 in the overtime session, while McDevitt made 14 of 26 in the two periods. And that led to a 13-9 scoring advantage by the Crusaders in overtime, giving the host team all it needed to turn back the Middletown bid for a win.

Davis scored 9 of his game-high 18 points in the extra period and teammate Davon Lee added 15 in the win.

Hughes and Plummer teamed for 26 points in the loss.