Middletown High School’s boys basketball team held on for a 56-47 season-opening win over Kings on Friday night at Wade E. Miller Gym.
The Middies dominated the court for most of the first half, but the Knights went on a 14-8 run in the third quarter to narrow the deficit to 42-39 going into the final eight minutes.
The teams exchanged baskets throughout the fourth period, but freshman Johrdon Mumford knocked in a basket with just over a minute left, and Shandon Morris hit two free throws with 30 seconds remaining to seal the win.
Morris finished with 11 points and Aaron Jones added 10 for Middletown, which shot 54.3 percent from the floor.
“We did not let our inexperience really hinder us,” Middies coach Darnell Hoskins said.
Middletown returned only one starter from a team that went 8-16 a year ago. The other six returning players saw limited action.
“There were signs it showed on both ends of the court,” Hoskins said. “But the thing I was most proud of was that we were resilient enough not to buckle.”
Junior center Chris Stallworth led the Middies with 12 points and five rebounds. Stallworth used his 6-foot-6 frame to control the interior against a Kings team that had only two players at 6-2.
“That was a competitive advantage we had, and really wanted to pound the ball inside,” Hoskins said. “Right now we are not a great offensive perimeter team. Our strength and experience is in the paint.”
Kings is in the same roster predicament as the Knights only have one senior and start two sophomores.
One of those sophomores, Jack McHugh, finished with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Junior Jake Peters led Kings with 19 points, with 15 of those points coming from behind the arc. Peters was a big part of the Knights’ second-half run.
“We are a very young, inexperienced team that returns about three points a game,” Kings coach Nick Molz said. “I was happy how we were down 14 points early and fought back like we did.”
This is the fourth straight season Middletown has won its season opener.
“It is always good to get off on the right foot and it teaches our guys how to win,” Hoskins said. “Tonight, we started in the right direction.”
The Middies are back on the court Tuesday night at St. Xavier. The Knights travel to Withrow next Friday.
KINGS (0-1): Jack McHugh 6 5 18, Briton Longwell 1 2 4, Jack Hussey 2 0 4, Jack Peters 6 2 19, P.J. Marchal 0 1 1, Gabe Hicks 0 1 1. Totals: 15-11-47
MIDDLETOWN (1-0): Blake Marshall 2 1 8, KeiAunte Powell 1 4 6, Aaron Jones 3 3 10, Johrdon Mumford 3 1 7, Shandon Morris 3 5 11, Jawunn Bailey 2 0 4, Chris Stallworth 5 2 12. Totals: 19-16-56
3-pointers: K 6 (Peters 5, McHugh), M 2 (Marshall, Jones)