The No. 1 seeded Middletown Cavaliers trailed early but fought back to take a 15-10 lead after one quarter and would hold the advantage until the final buzzer in a 57-42 quarterfinal win at home Saturday. Number eight seed Sanford came out firing, going up 10-6 midway through the opening period thanks to two “three-point” shots by senior Sean Forrest. The Cavaliers countered with a 9-0 run ignited by Jaiden McGhee’s two long range buckets and one from Amir Hite.
The defenses controlled the second quarter but the two teams remained dialed in from beyond the arc as Jordan Spencer and Chris Stanford connected for the Warriors, while Marcus Edmund and McGhee drained “downtown” makes for the Cavs. It was a low-scoring quarter as Sanford cut Middletown’s lead to 21-18 at the half.
Middletown tightened up ball pressure in the second half, according to head coach Azeez Ali. That allowed the Cavaliers to go up by nine on yet another three-pointer by McGhee. That lead would increase to 11 points after two free throws by Amir Cunningham and a great pass from Amir Hite to Edmund for a layup. Middletown took a 35-26 lead into the final eight minutes and the closest the Warriors would get was 42-35 with 3:30 to go as Dayon Polk drained a “three” to pull his team to within 7 points. Undaunted, the Cavs would finish out the win from the free throw line as Sanford was forced to foul in the final 2:00. Middletown converted 21 of 32 foul shots (66%) with the two Amir’s being very efficient. Hite made 5 of 6 from the line while Cunningham calmly nailed 7 of 8.
Sanford completes its season with a record of 15-6, losing only 2 of their last 12 games. Tommy Vaughn, Jr. led the Warriors with 14 points, while senior Polk added 9 and fellow senior Forrest scored 6 points.
The Cavaliers will face the 5th seed Salesianum in the semifinals as the Sals eliminated Tower Hill 45-43 in the closest quarterfinal of the day. The Cavaliers only “in-state” loss was to the Sals 51-32 in late January. Middletown senior Jaiden McGhee led the way with 18 points and four 3’s, telling us after the game “we knew we had to play together to get the “W” and get to the Bob”. Marcus Edmund contributed with 12 points, Amir Hite added 8 and Cunningham 7 points for the Cavs. Middletown will take a 20-2 record to the DIAA semifinals Thursday night and will do so riding a 10-game win streak.
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