Middletown Starts Fast, Explodes Past Pequea Valley As Blue Raiders Notch Late-Season Nonleague Road Win
Written by: Andy Herr on Thursday, January 30th, 2020
At this stage of the season, you’re likely playing somewhere within the scope of three main scenarios. First, the place where everyone desires to reside come late-January, is to be firmly and comfortably entrenched within some sort of playoff field, whether it be leagues or districts. The second, the type of situation that is far more precarious by comparison, is to be sprinting down the final quarter-pole of the season while simultaneously hoping to snatch up a last-second postseason berth in the process. The third, by far the least desirable of all possible options, is to be playing for nothing more than pride and the school name on the front of the jersey with postseason aspirations having been long-since expelled earlier in the year.
Well, fortunately for the Pequea Valley Braves, they would not have to worry about finding themselves residing in the latter neighborhood come Wednesday night. Instead, they just so happened to be leasing some precious space somewhere within the center of the town.
As far as the Braves’ contingent was concerned, Pequea Valley’s 2019-20 campaign has been a sight for sore eyes around the tiny community of Kinzers considering that the Braves’ last handful of seasons have been nothing short of arduous given how few and far in between the wins seemed to come by. And while PV was once again hovering below .500 at 7-12 overall prior to their midweek grudge-match against Middletown, an incredibly formidable foe hailing from the prestigious Mid-Penn Conference, the Braves entered the evening with the #10-seed next to their name, a vital fact to remember when considering that District 3-3A, Pequea Valley’s classification, happens to take eight entrants into their postseason tournament.
So, needless to say, Pequea Valley’s resume would likely gain a significant uptick in terms of posturing for one of those final few playoff bids should the Braves be able to topple the Blue Raiders, a District 3-4A classified school, on their homecourt with this game marking the first of the Braves’ final three regular season contests left to be played this year in terms of PV hoping to make late-season playoff push.
But on this night, the visitors from just inside Dauphin County would leave little doubt as to who would end up prevailing on this frigid night in rural Lancaster County.
In fact, the opening possession of this nonleague affair could have served as a precursor for the rest of the evening.
On said possession, a lightning-quick Julian Nester theft and subsequent one-handed dunk on the other end by the 5’11 junior guard would put Middletown up 2-0 just a few seconds in. And while Pequea Valley would eventually battle back and end up going in front at 6-4 following a Devon Colyer trifecta splashed in the corner just in front of the Middletown bench, a Nester 3-point bomb sunk in his own right put the Blue Raiders back in front at 12-8 just three minutes in to an already back and forth offensive display between the two squads.
But from there, Middletown would never look back for the remainder of the night.
With their offense already humming like a finely-tuned machine, Middletown eventually saw their early lead swell up to as many as eight following yet another Blue Raiders’ triple, this one knocked down by 5’10 junior guard, Tymir Jackson, giving the visitors the 19-11 advantage with 2:30 left to play in the opening quarter. From there, the Middletown lead would continue to grow over the span of the final two minutes and change as the Blue Raiders eventually raced into the second stanza while maintaining ownership of the 23-13 lead.
When scouting Middletown, it quickly becomes apparent that Tymir Jackson is the one who can perhaps stir the Blue Raiders’ drink the best. Suffice to say, the powerfully-built point junior guard put on a show while handling the rock against Pequea Valley on Wednesday night. In fact, one only need look to the first few minutes of the second quarter for proof of that.
After first burying a cold-blooded trey which had ballooned the Middletown lead out to a dozen at 28-16, Jackson proceeded to show off his dizzying display of handles shortly thereafter with an absolute dime to a wide-open Julian Nester standing beneath the bucket as the Middletown junior duo helped force Pequea Valley into taking a timeout with the Blue Raiders owning the 30-16 lead with 5:19 left to go before the intermission.
Yet unfortunately for the homestanding Braves, their deficit only continued to grow in size and stature as the quarter progressed onward.
In fact, while a timely Tyrell Stoltzfus triple for Pequea Valley helped cut the Middletown lead down to 18 at 39-21 with 1:10 left to before the break, the Blue Raiders proceeded to head off into the locker room with their largest lead of the night as a yet another Julian Nester trey, this one just moments before the second quarter buzzer rang out, allowed Middletown to double-up their hosts at 42-21 at the halftime recess.
To their credit though, Pequea Valley must have found something click for them once huddled back inside their locker room.
In fact, almost as if to be right out of the chute, the Braves were able to trim the Middletown lead back down to 14 following a triple knocked in by junior guard Tony Lazar, prompting the Blue Raiders to burn a timeout while still maintaining the 44-30 lead with 5:49 left in the third frame.
That said, the shoe would just as quickly end up being placed on the other foot over the next minute and change as a strong and determined take to the rack courtesy of 5’7 sophomore guard, Tate Leach, forced PV into taking an impromptu timeout this time around, as the Blue Raiders had been able to build their lead back up to 50-33 with 4:20 now left to play in the third.
Remember that earlier note about Tymir Jackson putting on a display with the ball in his hands? Well, boy oh boy, did he ever have a moment with the third quarter winding down on Wednesday night.
After taking off on the break following a successful defensive trip down on the other end, Jackson proceeded to leave his would-be defender sprawled out on the floor behind him after an ankle-breaking display of dribbling before finishing the play off in style with a magnificent reverse finish at the cup to put Middletown up 52-33 with 3:30 left to go in the quarter, bringing the Blue Raiders’ fans to their feet in approval of Jackson’s effectiveness in running the guests’ transition offense.
So, with the Blue Raiders seemingly well on their way towards claiming a nonleague victory by this stage of the game, just one quarter remained following a kiss off the glass tallied by PV’s Josh Jarvis at the third quarter horn, trimming the Middletown lead down to 20 at 55-35 with just eight minutes remaining.
Once inside the final quarter, several members of Middletown’s core nucleus quickly recognized their opportunity to check into the contest and shine.
And shine they would.
Case in point, a pair of back-to-back buckets tallied from point-blank range courtesy of 6’2 junior big man, Welsh Brock, ushering the Blue Raiders out to the 63-40 just two minutes into the new quarter. From there, several members of Middletown’s senior class then followed suit. First up in the proceedings came a sensational Euro-step take to the rack courtesy of 5’11 senior guard, Jarrod Pugh, who then received a resounding cheer from the Middletown patrons who had made the trek eastward on this night. And while a pair of triples dialed up by way of Pequea Valley’s potent backcourt duo of Nevin Stoltzfus and Devon Colyer helped cut into the Blue Raiders’ lead at 68-46, a pair of Middletown treys were just as quickly answered right back, cashed in by way of 5’10 senior guard Ryan Goff and 6’2 senior forward Quintin Miles respectively, effectively helped put the exclamation mark on things as the Blue Raiders were sure to have a happy bus ride back home to Middletown following their 75-48 triumph over Pequea Valley on Wednesday night.
NEXT UP: While Wednesday night’s defeat at the hands of Middletown all but formally extinguishes Pequea Valley’s hopes of reaching the postseason this year, the future still appears to be bright come next winter in Kinzers. In fact, the Braves are slated to lose just one senior off this year’s team. And while it is a starter’s minutes that will now be absent considering they will come from Tyrell Stoltzfus, the bulk of the returning talent in the Braves’ starting lineup, namely found in the backcourt with Devon Colyer and Nevin Stoltzfus manning the controls, Pequea Valley will not only have the ability to compete for another opportunity at perhaps reaching the postseason again next year, but the Braves just might end up being a legitimate threat to compete for Lancaster-Lebanon League Section Five supremacy come this time a year from now as well.
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