The iconic Middletown Middie basketball program moved into its new showcase palace Saturday and it was a slam dunk for happy fans.
The first boys varsity game in Wade E. Miller Arena — on the newest version of Jerry Lucas Court — packed in a full crowd that exploded loudly during the inaugural game’s pregame ceremonies that included a video introduction by former Middletown High School football great Chris Carter.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Middletown school parent Amber Hyman, clad in Middie purple as were many others who filled the 2,130-seat arena.
“I never imagined that it would look like or be this nice. It’s just amazing,” said Hyman.
Saturday was the final part of a two-day celebration that saw the Middletown community say goodbye Friday night to the school district’s historic Wade E. Miller Gym in the old high school. There, the Middies had seven seasons as Ohio basketball champs.
The next day’s basketball action — for both boys and girls — saw a series of games in the new arena on the transforming Middletown High School campus leading up to the evening’s varsity tip off against Lima Senior High School.
Unfortunately, the Middies will have to wait a little longer as they lost their new home opener to Lima by a 75-32 score.
But that outcome didn’t dampen the evening as fans young and old honored NBA Hall Of Famer Jerry Lucas before the game. Other former Middie greats — including NBA’s Archie Aldridge — were in attendance.
Marlon Styles, superintendent of Middletown Schools, said opening the new arena, which is part of a $96 million construction of an adjacent middle school and renovated high school, was about so much more than just basketball.
Both building projects are scheduled to be done by summer.
“This is about Middie pride at its ultimate finest. You talk about history and rich tradition in Middletown school district and our city and you get to see it tonight,” said Styles. “This is about a city coming together for our students.”
“There is a sense of pride that we are coming together as one Middletown,” he said.