Prep boys basketball: Middies hoping to reverse trend of close losses

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Prep boys basketball: Middies hoping to reverse trend of close losses

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Hamilton’s Myles Howard drives on Middletown’s Jawunn Bailey during their game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown on Jan. 13, 2017. COX MEDIA FILE PHOTO

There will be a lot of new items for Middletown High School boys basketball fans to take in this season.

New digs, obviously, with the opening of the new Wade E. Miller Arena after decades of playing in historic Wade E Miller Gym.

New faces? Yep, there will be a lot of new faces wearing the purple and white.

But what’s coach Darnell Hoskins the quickest to brag on? A new work ethic.

BOYS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

Middletown finished 8-16 overall and 6-10 in the Greater Miami Conference last year, but it was not as lost of a season as the record would indicate.

The Middies were outscored by an average of just 2.1 points (47.8 to 45.7) and lost 10 games by four or fewer points.

Included in the difficult-to-swallow department was a 53-51 loss to Division I district champion Mason and a 50-46 sectional semifinal loss to Wilmington that closed out the season.

The near misses were the focus of a bitter taste Hoskins noticed each time the team got together in the offseason.

“I think our tournament loss motivated us to work hard during the offseason and workouts because we lost a tight game,” Hoskins said. “We are a young group that is not accustomed to losing. We want to put in the work to make us better and so not to experience the same results.”

Middletown will build and move on without Cliff Snow’s 15.6 points and 7.2 rebounds and Jomar Bailey’s 10.1 points and six rebounds as they were among five Middies who walked across the stage and received their diplomas last spring.

For now, the leadership roll falls to Jawunn Bailey.

The 6-foot-6 senior started 15 of the 23 games he saw action in, averaging 3.0 points and 3.3 rebounds.

GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

Bailey’s 15 starts are more than the number of games the other six returners saw action in a year ago.

Hoskins has been encouraged by the play of Aaron Jones, who makes the move up from the JV roster, and freshman Johrdon Mumford throughout the preseason.

“We have been pleasantly surprised this preseason,” Hoskins said. “We are hoping it is applicable to the real season.”

A large part of the progress has been on Hoskins’ end.

GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

The veteran coach has looked at who he has and adapted to a style fitting them instead of trying to shove a square peg in a round hole.

“We are a young group and inexperienced, but play hard,” Hoskins said. “We expect to continue to change the culture to a culture of expectancy and to transition our style of play to fit the athlete we are developing.”

And if all the changes play out and the Middies get on a roll, Hoskins knows the GMC could be open for anyone.

“Naturally, Princeton and (Lakota) East have the most talent on paper and then everybody else falls in line,” Hoskins said.

Middletown opens the season Dec. 1 at home against Kings. The Middies’ last game in Wade E. Miller Gym will be on Dec. 8 against Hamilton, and the first game in the Wade E. Miller Arena will be Dec. 9 against Lima Senior.

GIRLS BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEWS

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