Mark Baker is noticing a pattern in his Middletown High School boys basketball team.
And it’s not one he’s too happy about.
The Middies have a tendency to get down big right out of the gate and then try to find a way to battle back.
“It has been a pattern that (the other team) has to smack us before we figure we are in a fight,” Baker said following a 72-51 Greater Miami Conference loss to Mason at Wade E. Miller Gymnasium that dropped his squad to 3-6 overall and 2-3 in conference play Tuesday.
“We have to go from the opening tap knowing we are in a competition and in a fight instead of spotting teams 10 points. Mason is too good. The GMC is too good to do that.”
Mason (8-0, 5-0) came out swinging.
After Middletown took a 2-0 lead on a basket by Dalaquan Wright, Mason’s Rodney Hutchinson buried 3-pointers on consecutive possessions. Cameron Arminio added another and the Comets had a 9-2 lead that would never be threatened.
“Anytime you are on the road you want to get a fast start,” Mason coach Greg Richards said of his team, ranked seventh in the first Division I state poll. “We have never won in here, so the fast start was a big plus for us.”
Middie freshman EJ Williams scored three of his team-high 10 points to cut the deficit to 9-5 with 4:30 remaining in the opening quarter, but the Comets took off again, ending the quarter with a 7-3 run to push the lead to 16-8.
Mason increased the lead to 36-21 at halftime before the Middies started to try and climb back into it.
A long 3 by Kobie Johnson (10 points) cut the lead to 38-28 with 4:10 left in the third quarter. It marked the only time the Middies got as close as 10 the rest of the game. Mason increased the lead to 56-36 heading into the fourth quarter and wasn’t threatened the final eight minutes.
Middletown didn’t help itself from the line when given a chance, going 9-for-19 in the second half while also converting 18 of 46 from the field. Mason connected on 12 of 26 threes and was 14 of 17 from the line. Mason was led by Arminio with 20 and Hutchinson with 17.
“It’s an effort thing,” Baker said. “We get to the first effort and we can’t get beyond that. We need to get to the second effort, the third effort if we want to be competitive in this conference. It starts with me, but we are really searching and really struggling with leaders in the locker room and on the court.”
Middletown returns to action Friday at Hamilton.
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