Boys Basketball

‘I knew our guys wouldn’t quit’ — Middletown falls in district finals


CINCINNATI — The Middie Magic fizzled out Sunday night, but not without a little late resilience.

Jeremiah Landers scored a game-high 22 points to lead Middletown, which fell to Centerville 68-60 in a Division I district semifinal at the Cintas Center.

“I knew our guys wouldn’t quit,” Middies first-year coach Bill Edwards Jr. said. “It’s just not in our DNA. It hurts, but I’m proud of those guys. They fought every second.”

Middletown got down 15 points in two instances and cut the margin down to five or less multiple times.

“Just a couple mental breakdowns,” Edwards said. “The ball went in their way. They made some shots. Like I said, a couple blown assignments and stuff that we talked about.”

Michael Maldonado had 16 points and Chancellor Knight had 14 for the Middies, who won seven of their last nine to finish the season 18-8.

Greater Western Ohio Conference champion Centerville (17-8) has won three in a row and will face Hamilton on Wednesday in a regional semifinal at 6 p.m. at the Cintas Center.

Middletown and Centerville had never played in the past 20 years according to the GMC website, which only dates to the 2004-2005 season.

Middletown led 4-2 on a Landers bucket, but Centerville went on a 10-2 run to grab the lead. The Elks stayed on top the rest of the way.

“We came in feeling like we had a chance,” Edwards said. “We knew they were tough, and we knew they had guys that could play.

“I’ve been in this position as far as my guys losing. For the seniors, it hurts — especially for the underclassmen who want to send the seniors out the right way. But our guys are going to get back in the gym, and we’re going to fight, and we’re going to make it our obligation for this to be the standard at Middletown.”

The Middies send off three seniors in Daelyn Jamison, Issac Stamper and Knight. Edwards, a 2009 Middletown graduate, analyzed his first season at the helm.

“I loved it,” Edwards said. “I love the kids. I always love my guys when I coach them. This is a special first group for me. Even back to the summer, I thought we had great camaraderie in the locker room, and off the court the guys bonded well.

“It was definitely a roller coaster. We faced some challenges in our first year. It was a whole new system. Our guys had to learn a whole new staff that our guys had to figure out. For them to be able to do that in a few short months and click and start the season 7-0, hats off to our guys and pat them on the back.

“A lot of people didn’t expect this from our team or expect us to make this run. But we knew what we had, and we’re excited to keep going. This is going to hurt today, but we’re just going to keep going.”

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