Boys Basketball

Middies off to best start in over a decade after 41-37 victory over Big Blue

MIDDLETOWN — Bill Edwards Jr. has the Middletown High School boys basketball team playing at its best in over a decade.

Isaac Stamper sunk two crucial buckets down the stretch to finish with 10 points, Ny’Jhere Araujo also chipped in with 10 and the Middies hung on to beat the Hamilton Big Blue 41-37 on Tuesday night at Wade E. Miller Arena.

“It’s exciting,” said Edwards, a 2009 Middletown graduate who took over the program when Kelven Moss left for Lakota West during the offseason. “But like I told the guys, the journey’s not over. We’re just getting started, and we know what we can do as a ball club. We want to continue to work and work to be playing our best basketball by February.”

Middletown sits atop the Greater Miami Conference after Sycamore fell to Princeton on Tuesday and has matched its best start since the 2010-2011 season at 7-0.

Hamilton (2-3, 2-2 GMC) and Middletown split their two meetings last season. They’ll next face each other on Jan. 30 at Hamilton.

“I knew tonight would be tough,” Edwards said. “(Kevin) Higgins coached teams are always disciplined. He does a very good job all the way back to Colerain when I was in school.

“Watching them on film, I knew that their matchup was tough to attack — because when you’ve got a guy who can jump 40 inches to the rim and protect the basket at all times, it’s just tough sometimes,” Edwards added. “We had to take our time and figure out what we needed to do to execute and finish.”

Hamilton senior Andrea Holden, a 6-foot-6 forward, had 11 points and 12 rebounds. Marlon Reed scored a game-high 19 points to lead the Big Blue, who pulled ahead 18-14 at halftime following a 3-3 first quarter.

“It was a good game. We had our chances. We made a couple mistakes here and there,” said Higgins, Hamilton’s sixth-year coach. “They made a couple more plays than us. But I thought it was a good game. I thought our guys competed. I thought we played back-to-back — two really good teams on the road. We’ve shown a lot of improvement, so we will take the positive and keep moving forward.”

Hamilton fell at home to Fairfield last Tuesday and then beat Princeton on the road Friday before getting into a dogfight with Middletown, which clawed its way back in the second half on Tuesday.

Stamper, a 6-foot-9 senior, was fed the ball inside the paint and hit a couple huge shots to propel the Middies (7-0, 4-0 GMC) in the final minutes. Araujo went 4 for 4 from the free throw line, including a couple key ones in the final minute.

“We had a little trouble moving the ball for a little while,” Stamper said. “It took a while to get it inside. Our teammates did a great job of working the ball around to get it in there. That really opened things up for us.

“This is what we’re wanting to do,” Stamper added. “We’re wanting to win, and we’re having fun doing that right now.”


Holden scores a team-best 10.8 points a game and is third in the conference in rebounds (9.3) and second in blocks (2.3). … Middletown is led by junior Jeremiah Landers, who averages 14.4 points and 2.6 assists a game.


Both teams get back to action on Friday. Middletown travels to Lakota East, while Hamilton hosts Colerain.

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