BRADFORD – The Bradford Railroaders learned an important lesson in a painful manner Saturday night as they lost to the Middletown Christian Eagles 52-50 in non-conference action.
The Eagles overcame an eight-point deficit in the final 2:30 of the game by going on a 15-5 run to close out the game.
When you are rebuilding a program like Coach Mackenzie Perry of Bradford, your players are relearning everything, even how to play with the lead late in the game. Roader turnovers played a big part in the Eagle comeback.
“The thing we have to address as a coaching staff is how can we have them be calm under pressure,” Coach Perry said. “Their eyes literally got opened in the sense that the holes we were finding we couldn’t find anymore. They got scared and nervous. That’s literally what happened. As a coaching staff I have to do a better job of getting them prepared for it. I thought I prepared them this week, so that’s on me.
“They dealt with it last year. Lots of teams pressed them. We’ve been pressed this year. That’s not an excuse… We have to go and be better and smarter. For me that comes from the coaching staff. I have to do better. When Monday comes I’ll do a job of getting them prepared, so when we get pressed we can survive… We just shot ourselves in the foot.”
Bradford’s man-to-man defense and a 1-3-1 zone of Middletown Christian controlled the first half. Neither team was able to develop a consistent offensive rhythm. After 16 minutes the score had the Eagles leading 19-15.
The Roaders came out of halftime in offensive high gear. Bradford hit the Eagles with a 14-1 run to open the period, making the score 29-20 with 3:39 left in the quarter. Alex Swabb, Dialaquan Millhouse, Andy Branson, Josh Phillips and Drew Patty each contributed a hoop to the surge. MC would battle back to cut the lead to 33-29 Bradford, going into the final period.
The Eagles broke out a 1-3-1 full court press, but the Roaders handled the pressure. They were able to increase their lead to eight at 45-37 before the final 2:30 when things fell apart.
Coach Perry was pleased with his players’ overall effort.
“I don’t have to worry about effort with these boys,” he said. “They give me everything they have. They see the results of what they do and how much better the results have been this year… I need to do better to get them over the top. I’ve got great boys out there.”
Bradford was led in by Alex Swabb and Drew Patty each with 13 points while Andy Branson added 10. The trio of John Leisinger, Jamaal Hunter and Jarod Hamlin combined for 31 of the Eagles’ 33 second half points.
Bradford with the loss dropped to 2-6 on the season. Middletown Christian is now 4-5.
The Eagles also won the junior varsity contest 46-26.
Middletown Christian – 52
Shores 5, Fraley 2, Reisinger 6, Hamlin 7, Leisinger 13, Hunter 11, Russell 8.
Bradford – 50
Millhouse 9, Branson 10, Swabb 13, Patty 13, Phillips 5.
3-pointers: MC: 3(Reisinger 2, Hunter); Brad: 5(Branson 2, Swabb 2, Millhouse).
Free throws: MC: 15-19; Brad: 5-7.