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What a week: Blue Raider boys basketball team wins handful of games

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

Posted 1/31/18

Last week was comparable to running a gauntlet for the Middletown boys basketball team, playing five games in six days.

Grueling, demanding and mentally taxing, not to mention physically testing, …

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What a week: Blue Raider boys basketball team wins handful of games


Last week was comparable to running a gauntlet for the Middletown boys basketball team, playing five games in six days.

Grueling, demanding and mentally taxing, not to mention physically testing, the busy span stretched the Blue Raiders to their limits as the team was forced to make up a couple of previously postponed games along with keeping up with their regularly scheduled contests as the cutoff date for District III qualifying approaches.

Despite that heavy workload, the Raiders came away as victors in all five of the games, passing a big test along the way. It all started last Monday with the team’s outstanding win at Milton Hershey that got the Middletown squad off to a great start.

On Tuesday, the Raiders defeated East Pennsboro. On Wednesday, the Blue Raiders stepped out of Mid-Penn Conference play in a win over visiting Eastern Lebanon County. On Friday, following a much-needed day off, the Raiders blasted visiting Camp Hill. On Saturday, the team enjoyed a successful road trip to Mifflin County in a cross-over game.

That string of victories pushed the Middletown squad to a record of 12-5 and lifted the Raiders to third place in the District III-AAAA power ratings.

“That was huge,” Middletown coach Chris Sattele said of the five-game winning streak. “It’s a credit to the kids, how hard they worked for it.”

Entering this week, there were four games left in the regular season. The team, sitting in second place in the Mid-Penn Capital Division, was still hoping for some help to earn a share of the title.

The remaining schedule: At Trinity on Tuesday, Jan. 30; at home vs. West Perry on Feb. 2, at home vs. Boiling Springs on Feb. 6, and at Lower Dauphin on Feb. 8.

Middletown 62, East Pennsboro 52

Following Monday’s pleasing 81-55 victory at Milton Hershey the Blue Raiders played host to East Pennsboro on Tuesday. The Raiders led 17-10 after one quarter, 33-26 at halftime and 45-34 by the end of the third period. With a solid finish, the Raiders turned away the Panthers 62-52 for the win.

Chris Plummer led all scorers with 20 points while Ryan Hughes and Tre’ Leach collected 15 points each to lead the way. Antonio Gamble and David Alcock split 12 points.

The Raiders did not get off to a good start, going 0-for-8 from the floor and suffering 4 turnovers before scoring their first points on a basket by Leach with 3:50 left in the opening period. Fortunately, the Panthers only led by a 4-0 count during that span.

Following Leach’s score, Alcock and Gamble went back-to-back, aided by a pair of Plummer assists, that eased the Raiders in front 6-4. Although the Panthers tied the score at 6 on a goal by Zach Mulhouser, the Middletown five would not trail again in the game.

The teams each scored 16 points in the second stanza, keeping the point spread at seven, 33-26, at halftime. With defenses controlling the action, the teams collectively scored just 20 points in the third, but the Raiders held the upper hand with a 12-8 advantage and stretched their lead to 45-34 heading into the final segment. That turned out to be more than enough to secure the win.

The Panthers registered 18 points in the fourth quarter, many of them coming after Sattele pulled his starters with 3:39 left and a 56-39 lead well in hand.

Middletown 72, Eastern Lebanon County 62

The Blue Raiders recorded another 10-point victory on Wednesday evening at home against visiting Eastern Lebanon in a non-league scrap.

The Elco Raiders proved to be pretty good opponents who hung right with their hosts throughout the game. Middletown led 16-13 at the end of the first quarter, 33-31 at halftime and 50-46 by the close of the third period, keeping the outcome in suspense until the final minute.

A finishing 22-16 scoring advantage in the fourth quarter by the Raiders finally put the game away.

Hughes registered a game-high 28 points, Plummer added 14, Leach chipped in 12 and four other players added points in the win. Jeff Lorah led Elco with 19 points.

Elco started off the game with a pair of threes around a basket by Middletown’s Brady Fox for an early 6-2 lead but the Blue Raiders ran off 9 straight points to forge ahead. A triple by Plummer, a driving layup off a steal by Kyle Truesdale, a pair of free throws by Leach and a putback by Hughes completed the run and an 11-6 lead by the home team.

At the end of one quarter the Blue Raiders held a 16-13 lead.

With 6:28 left in the second period, the Middletown squad was ahead 23-15 before Elco’s Braden Bohannon went back-to-back to cut the lead to 23-19. The Blue Raiders held the lead until Bohannon’s triple tied the score at 27-27 with 3:12 left in the first half and Evan Huey’s drive off a Middletown miss edged the visitors into the lead. But Hughes scored with 2:10 left to tie it and then dropped in a pair of foul shots after Elco again went ahead on two free throws by Lorah. Hughes scored again with just two seconds left off a Leach assist to give the Blue Raiders a 33-31 edge at halftime.

With a 17-15 scoring edge in the third quarter, the Middletown side was able to hang on for a 50-46 lead heading into the game’s final quarter. Hughes and Plummer each scored 6 points in the period while Huey hit a pair of treys to pace the other Raiders. Plummer and Leach each made a pair of foul shots to start the fourth quarter as the home team went up 54-46.

Following an Elco basket, Leach made one of two free throws, Hughes converted an Elco turnover and assist from Tyler Petroski into another score and Truesdale scored off an Elco miss that pushed the Middletown lead to 59-48 with 5:26 left.

The home team turned back an attempted rally by the visiting Raiders down the stretch as Hughes, Petroski, Leach and Plummer collected enough points to secure the win.

Middletown 81, Camp Hill 52

Back on Jan. 2, the Blue Raiders came away from Camp Hill on the short end of a 67-65 score, a disappointing loss for the Middletown team. The second meeting between the two Capital Division rivals turned out to be no contest as the Raiders routed the Lions 81-52.

Twelve players saw action with 11 of them scoring as Sattele used his whole team in the victory on Friday night at home. The Raiders got off to a good start by scoring the game’s first 4 points, stretched their lead to 15-5 by the halfway point of the opening period and never felt threatened in the dominant performance. The Lions did gain a 15-14 scoring edge in the second stanza but still found themselves on the low end of a 38-25 halftime score.

The Blue Raiders exploded for 27 points in the third quarter in an offensive showing that was every team’s dream. Plummer scored the first 5 points on a trey and tap in, while Leach, Hughes, Fox, Plummer and Tymir Jackson each chipped in to lead the Raiders on an 18-2 run that pushed the Lions into a 56-27 hole with 3:40 left in the third quarter. Late in the period, subs Mitch Lee, Jerrod Myers and Alcock scored to keep the home team well out in front 65-42 with 8 minutes to play.

The Blue Raiders collected 16 points in the final frame while holding the Lions to just 10. Camp Hill made just 2 of 12 shots in the quarter and picked up 6 points from the foul line. Hughes and Leach teamed for 35 points in the win while Jake Perry led the visitors with 20 points in the loss.

Middletown 80, Mifflin County 62

The Blue Raiders made a road trip to Lewistown on Saturday morning to take on the Mifflin County Huskies in a game that was originally scheduled for Dec. 8.

The Huskies, playing in the Mid-Penn’s Commonwealth Division, have struggled this year and had just one win to their credit before hosting the Raiders.

Their fortunes did not get any better on Saturday as the Middletown team dominated from start to finish in the 80-62 victory.

The Blue Raiders got off to a 7-2 start and ended up dropping in 24 points on their hosts to lead 24-15 after one quarter of play. Leach scored 10 of his game-high 25 points in the opening segment. The Raiders put up 22 more points in the second stanza while limiting the Huskies to 14 on their way to a commanding 46-29 lead by halftime. In the third quarter, the Middletown side outscored Mifflin County 18-11 and led by 24, 64-40, to start the fourth period. Plummer collected 8 of his 22 points in the third to lead the way.

Dante Scott came off the bench for the Huskies midway through the final frame and scored 10 points to lead a bit of a Mifflin County rally with mostly backup players on the floor for the Middletown side. But, after the Huskies had pulled to within 72-57 with 3:31 left, Sattele sent his starters back in to restore order.

The move paid off in an 8-5 scoring edge in the final minutes for the winning Blue Raiders. Noah Wright led the Huskies with 24 points in the loss.