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Raider boys start off season with win; Bradford victorious in MAHS coaching debut

By Larry Etter

Press & Journal Staff

717-944-4628
Posted 12/19/18

Despite the late start to the 2018-2019 basketball, delayed by an extended football campaign, new Middletown head coach Chris Bradford and his scrappy Blue Raider boys tipped off their new season …

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Raider boys start off season with win; Bradford victorious in MAHS coaching debut

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Despite the late start to the 2018-2019 basketball, delayed by an extended football campaign, new Middletown head coach Chris Bradford and his scrappy Blue Raider boys tipped off their new season with a rousing 66-52 victory over visiting East Pennsboro on Friday night.

Bradford, a former varsity assistant at Middletown who spent the last six years guiding Annville-Cleona, had just a few practice sessions with a full squad to get ready for his debut at the Blue Raiders helm. With 11 football players making the quick transition following their historic fall season, the team came together quickly as they played host to the Panthers, who came into the game with a 1-1 record.

To say the least, Bradford was very happy with the results.

And so, too, were the fans who came out to see what the rebuilt team had to offer. Nine players graduated from last year’s squad that went deep into the playoffs, so Bradford faced a challenge as he took over the program following the long tenure of Chris Sattele.

The season-opening victory was a very good start.

Senior guard Tyler Petroski, on whom Bradford is counting to lead this year’s team, scored a game-high 24 points while sophomore Tymir Jackson and freshman Tajae Broadie shared 24 more in the win. Senior Trayvon Joseph and sophomore Jules Nester each chipped in 7 points and surprise starter Anthony Powell, a freshman, added 4 in the triumph.

Bradford also got quality minutes from senior Joey Gusler and junior Jarrod Pugh on both ends of the court. 

Petroski and Jackson gave the Raiders a 4-0 lead before the Panthers tied the game on a pair of goals by Adnon Sbai and Nik Karoly. When the first quarter ended, the scoreboard showed an 11-11 stalemate, thanks to Petroski’s trey with 43 seconds left that erased an East Pennsboro lead. An equal number of turnovers and missed shots from both teams was a true reflection of the even play of both squads.

As it turned out, that equality carried through the second stanza as the first half ended in a 19-19 deadlock after 16 minutes of action. Powell gave the Raiders a brief lead to start the second quarter with a lay-in off a Petroski feed. But Karoly answered just 8 seconds later. Four players scored for the home team in the period while East Pennsboro’s Preston Powery collected 6 of his team’s 8 points as the two squads fought to the halftime draw.

Jackson scored early in the third off an inbounds pass from Petroski and Nester popped in a pair of free throws following a Karoly basket to keep the Raiders out in front. After East Penn’s Sbai missed two foul shots, Jackson went baseline off a Nester pass and then converted his steal into two free throws that pushed the Middletown lead to 26-21 with 4:59 left in the third period.

The Blue Raiders would hold onto the lead throughout the remainder of the game. Petroski caught fire from beyond the arc, making four shots from deep to lead the Raiders to a comfortable 43-31 advantage heading into the final frame.

Goals by Broadie and Joseph around a pair of Panther foul shots kept the Raiders well in front at 53-39 with 4:49 left in the game. But momentum changed quickly and brought some tense moments for Bradford’s bunch in the next several minutes. Stepping up their pressure defense, the Panthers forced four turnovers and a couple missed shots on their way to a pivotal 10-0 run that cut the Raiders’ lead to a precarious four points, 53-49, with 2:27 left.

Broadie, however, broke the streak with his putback off a Nester miss at 1:56, and an intentional foul against the Panthers sent Nester and Petroski to the line 10 seconds later.

Nester made one of two, Petroski swished both of his and the Raiders retained possession with a 58-49 lead in hand. Broadie’s score from the low post with 1:21 left pushed the Middletown advantage to 60-49 and the Raider defense held the Panthers at bay, giving up just one goal, a triple by Powery with 38 ticks left.

Broadie added a foul shot, Joseph made three of four free throws and Petroski popped in his 24th point off a Jackson dish to close out the victory.

Football success changes basketball schedule

The late start to the season means scheduling changes for the Blue Raider boys basketball team.

The Blue Raiders were scheduled to play host to Camp Hill on Tuesday and Bishop McDevitt on Wednesday, then travel to Trinity on Friday before having a few days off before the Elizabethtown holiday tournament Dec. 27-28.

They have added a makeup game from the Donegal Tip-Off Tournament that was postponed Dec. 7-8.  The boys will play at Penn Manor High School at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. They also will play at Palmyra at 1:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31.

The postponed Steel-High game from Dec. 11 will be played Thursday, Jan. 3.