Middies finish strong to beat Fairmont, end losing streak

Fairmont guard Kamron Drollet covers Middletown guard Colin Isaacs during Wednesday night’s game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Fairmont guard Kamron Drollet covers Middletown guard Colin Isaacs during Wednesday night’s game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Losing was wearing on Nelson Rutledge, so the Middletown High School senior guard did something about it.

Rutledge scored 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter Wednesday night as the Middies boys basketball team halted its five-game losing streak, rallying for a 53-47 nonconference victory over visiting Fairmont at Wade E. Miller Gym.

“It feels better when you’re finally on the other end of the bargain,” Rutledge said. “I was hurting in my stomach a few times after those losses, so I was motivated tonight. I just had to click in and stay solid. I’ve got to play how I know how to play.”

Cliff Snow had 10 of his 16 points in the fourth period for Middletown (5-10), which trailed 17-6 after one stanza and faced a 12-point deficit in the second period.

Aiding the Middies’ second-half surge was a halftime switch from their 2-3 zone to a 3-2.

“I’m extremely proud of them,” Middletown coach Darnell Hoskins said. “I think we learned a little bit from last week. That’s what I ask of the kids. Let’s just continue to pound the pavement and continue to take education away from everything. If the kids aren’t learning, then I’m not doing a good job teaching them.

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Middletown guard Nelson Rutledge drives on Fairmont center Dylan Crutchfield during their game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown on Wednesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Middletown guard Nelson Rutledge drives on Fairmont center Dylan Crutchfield during their game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown on Wednesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Middletown guard Nelson Rutledge drives on Fairmont center Dylan Crutchfield during their game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown on Wednesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

“They’re starting to understand what it takes to grind through the adverse moments of the game and not panic when we do get down and just continue to trust the process. It’s easy to abort the process when things aren’t going very well.

“Early on in our skid, we were doing that. We were panicking and going on instinct. We’ve got to get multiple stops in a row and we’ve got to pound the ball inside because that’s a recipe for success for this ballclub. We’re not a team that has a ton of firepower. We’re bigger than most teams, so that’s something we need to take advantage of.”

Neither team shot the ball with proficiency. Fairmont shot 32.7 percent, while the Middies shot 34.1 percent.

The Firebirds (7-8) hit some early 3-pointers, but finished 7 of 27 from beyond the arc. They led 39-36 with 5:34 remaining, then watched Middletown reel off 14 of the next 18 points.

“We were able to get a good lead because we were really good defensively in the first quarter,” Fairmont coach Blair Albright said. “We were where we needed to be. We were physical. We rebounded the ball. We were really consistent on that end.

“We weren’t good enough defensively from that point on. We were a little bit better in the third quarter, but in the second and fourth, we just didn’t get stops.”

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Fairmont’s Cade Morgan (3) and Dylan Crutchfield (22) defend Middletown center Jawunn Bailey during Wednesday night’s game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Fairmont’s Cade Morgan (3) and Dylan Crutchfield (22) defend Middletown center Jawunn Bailey during Wednesday night’s game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Fairmont’s Cade Morgan (3) and Dylan Crutchfield (22) defend Middletown center Jawunn Bailey during Wednesday night’s game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Kamron Drollet led the Firebirds with 15 points, and Kellan Bochenek and Jack Hendricks added nine apiece. Bochenek and Cade Morgan each totaled six rebounds. The visitors were 8 of 10 from the free-throw line … the Middies were 22 of 30.

Jomar Bailey tallied nine points, Jawunn Bailey had eight points and eight rebounds, and Snow hauled in seven boards for Middletown. Blake Marshall provided a second-quarter spark off the bench with a pair of treys.

The Middies played without center Chris Stallworth (strained knee ligament) and guard Christian Strother (broken hand). Hoskins said Stallworth is out indefinitely, and he hopes to get Strother back in the next 2-3 weeks.

“We just talk about being ready when your number’s called,” Hoskins said. “I’ve got three pesky sophomores that are just chomping at the bit to get some minutes. In a perfect world, I’d like to get everybody playing time, but we don’t live in a perfect world. The game is going to dictate what personnel we use. We don’t have any superstars. Everybody is playing a role.”

The 3-2 zone helped Middletown use more of its length in guarding the perimeter.

“When you throw a monkey wrench of sorts in there and they’ve prepared for something else, it’s hard to make adjustments because you just don’t have enough timeouts to figure it out,” Hoskins said. “I think it stifled them a little bit offensively. They got a little stagnant because they didn’t really have a continuity offense for it.”

Fairmont endured a scoring drought of more than nine minutes (midway through the second quarter until midway through the third). The Middies scored 14 straight points during that stretch.

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Middletown center Jomar Bailey draws a foul from Fairmont center Dylan Crutchfield during their game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown on Wednesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Middletown center Jomar Bailey draws a foul from Fairmont center Dylan Crutchfield during their game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown on Wednesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Middletown center Jomar Bailey draws a foul from Fairmont center Dylan Crutchfield during their game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown on Wednesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

“We weren’t doing a good job of getting into the teeth of the zone. We just wanted to chuck 3s from the perimeter,” Albright said. “We typically shoot the ball very well, so we’re not a team that sees much zone at all. To Middletown’s credit, this is how they play. They did it, and they were good in it. Their zone doesn’t look as imposing on film as it does when you actually get out there and see how long and athletic they are.

“In the second half, we didn’t move our feet. We fouled a ton and put ’em on the free-throw line. They outrebounded us by double digits. Our defense and rebounding just put us in a bad position. If you’re trading baskets with people, you’re always pressing at the offensive end. And that’s never a good thing, especially when you have to shoot it some to beat the zone.”

Fairmont has a Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover game at Miamisburg on Friday, while Middletown will resume Greater Miami Conference play at Colerain.

“We’re going forward,” Rutledge said. “We’re looking forward to the playoffs. If we’re all on the same page, we’ll be a tough team to beat in the tournament.”

Fairmont 17-7-10-13—47

Middletown 6-16-6-25—53

FAIRMONT (7-8): Kellan Bochenek 3 0 9, Cade Morgan 3 0 6, Jansen Davidson 0 2 2, Jack Hendricks 3 0 9, Kamron Drollet 4 6 15, Dylan Crutchfield 3 0 6. Totals: 16-8-47

MIDDLETOWN (5-10): Nelson Rutledge 3 7 14, Cliff Snow 4 8 16, Blake Marshall 2 0 6, Jawunn Bailey 3 2 8, Jomar Bailey 2 5 9. Totals: 14-22-53

3-pointers: F 7 (Bochenek 3, Hendricks 3, Drollet), M 3 (Marshall 2, Rutledge)

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Middletown center Jawunn Bailey works inside against Fairmont center Dylan Crutchfield during their game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown on Wednesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Middletown center Jawunn Bailey works inside against Fairmont center Dylan Crutchfield during their game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown on Wednesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Middletown center Jawunn Bailey works inside against Fairmont center Dylan Crutchfield during their game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown on Wednesday night. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Middletown guard Cliff Snow shoots against Fairmont guard Jansen Davidson on Wednesday night at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Middletown guard Cliff Snow shoots against Fairmont guard Jansen Davidson on Wednesday night at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Middletown guard Cliff Snow shoots against Fairmont guard Jansen Davidson on Wednesday night at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Middletown center Jawunn Bailey puts up a shot over Fairmont forward Brandon Hall on Wednesday night at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Middletown center Jawunn Bailey puts up a shot over Fairmont forward Brandon Hall on Wednesday night at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Middletown center Jawunn Bailey puts up a shot over Fairmont forward Brandon Hall on Wednesday night at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Middletown guard Blake Marshall connects for one of his two 3-pointers during Wednesday night’s game against Fairmont at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Middletown guard Blake Marshall connects for one of his two 3-pointers during Wednesday night’s game against Fairmont at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Middletown guard Blake Marshall connects for one of his two 3-pointers during Wednesday night’s game against Fairmont at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Fairmont’s Kamron Drollet (20) and Kellan Bochenek (2) try to halt Middletown guard Nelson Rutledge’s break to the hoop during Wednesday night’s game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

Fairmont’s Kamron Drollet (20) and Kellan Bochenek (2) try to halt Middletown guard Nelson Rutledge’s break to the hoop during Wednesday night’s game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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Fairmont’s Kamron Drollet (20) and Kellan Bochenek (2) try to halt Middletown guard Nelson Rutledge’s break to the hoop during Wednesday night’s game at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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The Middletown Middies huddle before Wednesday night’s game against Fairmont at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

The Middletown Middies huddle before Wednesday night’s game against Fairmont at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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The Middletown Middies huddle before Wednesday night’s game against Fairmont at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD

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