Middletown made a statement to open the season with a 77-63 win over John S. Burke Catholic in a non-league showdown on Friday night.
After losing four starters to prep school this summer, Middletown appeared that it could be in trouble. As it turns out, the Middies likely will be causing trouble for Class AA opponents again this season. Star junior Aaron Ray led Middletown’s balanced attack with 19 points.
There were plenty of other highlights for the Middies, who never trailed Burke Catholic, moved up from Class A to Class AA during the offseason. Jonathan Holder, pressed into starting duty after The Prep School Four bounced, had 17 points. Freshman Jordan Bryant, almost a mini-Aaron Ray, added 12 points and Shandy Casimir and freshman point guard Daniel Grant added eight apiece.
Anthony Salmon, who transferred to Burke Catholic from Newburgh this offseason, led the Eagles with 23 points and Michael Coffey had 21 points, converting two four-point plays, after being fouled on a 3-pointer. After point guard Jack Dwyer, who had five points, the Eagles lack depth.
However, don’t expect Burke Catholic to go away. This isn’t Zach Rufer’s edition of the Eagles, but I’d be shocked if they aren’t a factor in Class AA. Like Middletown, Burke Catholic lost four starters from last year’s Class A state runner-up team – via graduation.
Middletown’s departures came as a shock. The Middies were ravaged by defections during the offseason. Four starters – center Hasahn French, swingman Travis Cook and guards Darielle Jefferson and Tariq Boyd – transferred to prep schools.
Not a problem.
The new-look Middies are going to be all right.
Read more about the Middletown-Burke Catholic showdown in Saturday’s edition of Varsity845.com.