MIDDLETOWN >> It was a Saturday matinee and junior guard DeAaron Lawrence’s game-ending breakaway dunk put a terrific stamp on a great showing by the Middletown boys basketball team.
Lawrence scored a team-high 20 points and senior Dayquan Singletary added 16 points in the Blue Dragons’ impressive 80-58 Central Connecticut Conference win over Hartford Public at LaBella-Sullivan Gymnasium.
“It’s always a pleasure when DeAaron is hitting shots,” Middletown coach Rick Privott said. “Tyshaun was aggressive today going to the basket and Dayquan is Dayquan…he’s going to work hard all the time.”
Senior guard Ahmod Privott and James netted 11 points apiece for seventh-ranked Middletown (12-2).
The Blue Dragons built leads of 14-12 after one quarter and 32-27 at halftime before turning things up a notch in the second half.
“I thought we were doing a lot of good things out there in the first half,” Privott said. “The guys were playing hard and they were rebounding very well. The shooting just wasn’t there.”
It looked the Blue Dragons were going to pull away late in the third quarter when senior Charles Sprowl came off the bench and buried a corner trey for a 43-33 lead.
But the Owls responded. Senior guard Jahrell Spence drained a 3-pointer, senior guard Jovely Diaz drove for a layup and senior forward Nate Serrano added a pair of free throws that cut the lead to 43-40.
After a Privott putback, Spence got inside for another layup and Middletown’s lead was just 45-42 with less than a minute to go in the third.
Sprowl, however, hit another 3-pointer and that ignited a decisive 16-3 run. Highlights of the spurt included a conventional three-point play from Lawrence and consecutive fast break layups from Singletary and senior Aveon Woods (eight points) that gave the Blue Dragons a 61-45 cushion with 5:41 remaining.
“The defense was the biggest key in the second half and we were much more patient on offense,” Privott said.
Spence finished with a game-high 23 points and Diaz had 14 points for Hartford Public (5-6), which has dropped four straight.
Middletown has won 12 straight games since season-opening losses against Weaver and top-ranked Hillhouse. The road back to the Mohegan Sun, however, got a little tougher for last year’s Class L finalists with news that starting 6-4 center Markevious Snead has been ruled academically ineligible.
“Someone else is going to get an opportunity to step in,” Privott said.