Valiant Middletown effort falls just short at Mason

Middletown’s Nelson Rutledge, Jawunn Bailey (25) and Cliff Snow (11) play defense as Lakota West’s Malachi Hughes (44) makes a pass on Jan. 10 at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MARITZA MCKINNEY

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Middletown’s Nelson Rutledge, Jawunn Bailey (25) and Cliff Snow (11) play defense as Lakota West’s Malachi Hughes (44) makes a pass on Jan. 10 at Wade E. Miller Gym in Middletown. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY MARITZA MCKINNEY

Mason High School’s boys basketball team welcomed Middletown into the Mason Arena Tuesday night for a Greater Miami Conference matchup that had all the ingredients for a classic trap game.

The host Comets (12-1 overall, 8-1 in the GMC) led from start to finish in a 53-51 victory, but a defiant Middletown (4-10, 4-5) squad refused to go down without a fight.

Mason jumped on the visitors quickly as Comets senior guard Eddie Puisis logged 11 of his team-high 15 points in the first quarter, and the hosts bolted to a 19-6 advantage by the first break.

In the second quarter, Cliff Snow led a resurgence by the Middies as they outscored Mason 14-6 in the quarter and constricted the Comets’ lead to just five (25-20) by halftime.

A game proving difficult to find its rhythm saw more of the same in the third period as it morphed into a boxing match for both sides.

With 13.9 seconds remaining in the third, Snow attacked the basket and banked in a floater off the backboard while drawing contact.

Snow went to the charity stripe and tacked on the free throw, cutting the Mason lead to 39-37. And the tight struggle progressed well into the fourth quarter.

With 23.1 seconds remaining in the game, Middletown’s Jomar Bailey fought for space in the paint and found net while cutting the Mason lead to one at 49-48.

Over the next two possessions Middletown would forced two errant Comet passes that they converted into turnovers, but the Middies couldn’t translate the steals into scores.

In turn, Greg Richards’ veteran Comets drew two immediate Middie fouls, and followed by going 4 of 4 from the line in the remaining seconds and extended their cushion to 53-48.

Seconds later, Middletown went the length of the floor in two passes and Snow converted a desperation 3-pointer as time expired.

Matt King scored 13 points and Tanner Knue had 11 for the Comets. Snow (15), Nelson Rutledge (13) and Jomar Bailey (11) paced the Middies, who suffered their fifth straight loss.

Middletown returns to action at home Wednesday night against Fairmont. Mason will visit Oak Hills in a Friday matchup of the GMC’s top two teams — the Highlanders won their first contest 49-43 on Dec. 16.

Middletown 6-14-17-14—51

Mason 19-6-16-12—53

MIDDLETOWN (4-10, 4-5 GMC): Nelson Rutledge 6 0 13, Cliff Snow 5 4 15, Colin Isaacs 1 0 2, Jomar Bailey 5 1 11, Jawunn Bailey 2 2 6, KeiAunte Powell 1 0 2, Aaron Jones 1 0 2. Totals: 21-7-51

MASON (12-1, 8-1 GMC): Eddie Puisis 6 0 15, Carlos Lewis 3 0 8, Ben Schutte 3 0 6, Matt King 2 8 13, Tanner Knue 5 0 11. Totals: 19-8-53

3-pointers: MID 2 (Rutledge, Snow), MAS 7 (Puisis 3, Lewis 2, King, Knue)

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