Middletown advances to the final four with win over Saint Mark’s 

Glenn FrazerHeadlines, Sports

Middletown basketball Azjuan Matthews slams the ball in their win over Saint Marks, photo courtesy of Nick Halliday

(Middletown)   The Middletown Cavaliers used a late first quarter run to grab an 18-11 lead and never look back in a convincing quarterfinal win in front of a sold-out crowd Saturday. 

Clyde Frasier, Jack Murdaugh, and Zion Mifflin each made three point shots in the opening eight minutes of play to lead the Cavs effort. Frasier aggressively drove the paint – scoring 10 points in the second quarter helping the home team take a halftime lead of 40-21.

Middletown head coach Azeez Ali reminded his team in the locker room that they trailed big (45-22) to St Elizabeth a few weeks ago, and the Cavs rallied to make the game close. “We talked about playing 32 minutes, we just played a solid 16, now we have 16 more.” “We knew we would get their (St Marks) best shot, and we waivered a bit with the press, but we were able to weather the storm.” 

The Cavaliers certainly weathered the storm as the Spartans could not cut the deficit to single digits. Instead, Middletown built the lead to 63-40 early in the fourth quarter on consecutive long-range shots by Zion Mifflin. 

The Cavaliers were extremely efficient offensively going 16/18 from the foul line and making 8 shots beyond the arc. Both Aviyon Matthews and Jack Murdaugh brought the crowd to its feet with slam dunks. Aviyon also scored 9 of his 17 points in the third quarter to help deny a Spartan rally.

St Marks finished the season with a record of 17-5 under head coach Lonnie Wright. Alasaan N’Diaye led the Spartans with 15 points, Jordan Jones added 11, and Chase Wright left the game with an apparent ankle injury, scoring 9 points.

Middletown will face the #2 seed Dover Senators at the Bob Thursday night in the semifinals. Dover (21-2) eliminated St George’s Tech 67-49. The two last faced each other in the 2022 tournament as Dover defeated the Cavs 70-44 in the second round. When asked about returning to the Bob, coach Ali told us, “we want to stay in the moment, we approach each day in practice as winning the day.” “When we come in Monday, win the day, same with the rest of the week building to the game Thursday.” 

Dover’s last appearance in the semis was 2019 when they lost to Sanford in the title game 48-45. Middletown advanced to the semifinals last season, falling to eventual state champ Salesianum 51-49.

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