This was Middletown’s night, no doubt. But this one is for Slinky.
First off, let’s congratulate Middletown for a gutsy 55-54 Orange County Interscholastic Athletic Association Division I win at Newburgh Free Academy on Wednesday. Sophomore Aaron Ray helped the Middies pull off the come-from-behind win, scoring 18 of his 21 points in the second half.
Hasahn French hit the game-winner for Middletown (8-5, 4-1 OCIAA) on a lay up with 30 seconds remaining. The Middies have now won three in a row against Newburgh, which led 22-16 at halftime and 39-35 after three quarters. The Goldbacks are 6-4, 3-2 OCIAA and are in danger of having their nine-year run as Division I champions ended.
However, right now, Newburgh could care less about any hardware – even with another Division I showdown at Kingston (11-2, 4-1 OCIAA) on Friday looming.
Jakwan “Slinky” Jones is on Newburgh’s mind right now. Jones, a junior center, was taken out of the gym on a stretcher and transported by ambulance to St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh as fans, many covering their eyes, watched in shock. En route to the hospital after the game, Newburgh coach Matt Brown said via cell phone that he was unsure of Jones’ exact diagnosis. Jones was later taken to St. Francis Hospital in Poughkeepsie.
Jones suffered the injury trying to block a dunk by Travis Cook with 4:20 remaining. Cook didn’t convert and Jones was called for a foul. He landed hard on his right leg and a bone appeared to pierce through his skin.
“I felt bad for their team and I felt bad for him,” French said. “Because I know how hard he works and how much he wants to play with his team. It was kind of shocking. I never saw nothing like that before.”
Added Cook: “At first, I didn’t think it was that bad. I turned around after the foul was called and he was on the floor. When I saw his leg, I didn’t know what to say. I’ve never seen that in my life. My family and I are just praying for him. I hope he is good.”
Jones’ injury delayed the game by about 20 minutes. As he was carried off the court, his teammates surrounded him. Cook patted Jones on his shoulder. Many fans chanted “Slinky, Slinky, Slinky!” Jones raised his arm and received a standing ovation.
Give Newburgh credit. After Slinky went down, the Goldbacks could have folded. But Newburgh almost pulled it out – for Slinky.