HARTFORD >> Maybe Middletown and Weaver should meet every year in the season opening “Spirit of Doc” Classic.
For the second straight season the Blue Dragons and Beavers gave high school basketball fans their money’s worth on Saturday night at the annual tournament named after Weaver’s legendary coach and teacher Doc Hurley.
This matchup of Top 10 teams – both of whom lost state championship games last March – was a heavyweight bout from the opening tip to the thrilling finish. And for the second straight year the fifth-ranked Beavers made enough plays down the stretch to edge Middletown, 65-64, at Trinity’s Ray Oosting Gymnasium.
“These teams fight real hard and it comes across like the teams don’t like each other but that’s just competing,” Weaver coach Reggie Hatchett said. “Our kids have the utmost respect for Middletown. We enjoy the competition. They bring out the best in us and make us better.”
The Beavers sensational backcourt brother duo of Chaylyn and Jaecee Martin shared tourney MVP honors. Chaylyn Martin poured in a game-high 25 points, including a pair of game-tying free throws with just 34 seconds left, while Jaecee chipped in 15 points.
“People are saying it seems like they’ve been in high school for 10 years but that’s because they’ve been playing since day one,” Hatchett said. “They’re competitors. I love being able to coach them.”
The game-winning basket, however, came from a player who wasn’t even on Weaver’s team two weeks ago.
Senior Andre Lyons didn’t show up for the Beavers basketball tryout at the end of November. He also missed most of the preseason.
“There were personal issues and he contemplated not playing this year,” Hatchett said. “The team was like, ‘We have to get ‘Dre back.’”
Lyons, a 6-6 forward, made a last minute decision to play and it paid big dividends on Saturday night.
A nifty low post hoop from senior guard Ahmod Privott and a free throw from senior forward Markevious Snead gave No. 7 Middletown a 63-61 lead with just 1:06 left to play.
After Chaylyn Martin missed a 3-pointer, sophomore center Jayden Bermudez grabbed the rebound and the Blue Dragons got the ball to Snead, who drove to the basket and was fouled. Snead made 1 of 2 from the line to give Middletown a 64-61 cushion with 36 seconds left.
Middletown, however, fouled Lyons while fighting for the rebound off Snead’s missed free throw. Lyons went to the foul line with no time ticking off the clock and made his first foul shot. Lyons missed his second shot from the charity stripe but Chaylyn Martin grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
Martin made both free throws to tie it at 64.
The Blue Dragons nearly got the lead back but senior guard Aveon Woods’ shot from the lane rolled out. Weaver raced the ball upcourt where Jaecee Martin missed a foul-line jumper. But Lyons muscled his way inside, grabbed the offensive rebound and was fouled with 3.7 seconds left.
“I knew it was going to be that type of a game,” Middletown coach Rick Privott said. “We have to work more on our rebounding and our boxing out. We’ve got to play better defense and do all the little things. And that was the difference today. We didn’t get the little things done.”
Lyons (nine points) missed his first free throw but made the second and Privott’s long 3-pointer bounced off the rim at the buzzer.
“If this game was 30 seconds longer they might have won,” Hatchett said. “It was a great game. I’m just glad we showed the resolve at the end and outlasted them.”
Snead scored 17 points while spearheading the Blue Dragons defense with a number of blocked shots. Privott made three 3-pointers and finished with 16 points, while DeAaron Lawrence scored 13 points for Middletown, which battled back from a 37-26 halftime deficit.
The Blue Dragons, who were without Tyshaun James and Justin McMillian due to injuries, outscored Weaver 22-9 in the third quarter.
“I was happy with the heart of my kids,” Privott said. “We were down 11 at the half. We told them you can’t get it back in one shot, you just have to keep playing. We came in knowing we had a good ball club.”
Middletown hosts top-ranked Hillhouse tonight at 6:45 p.m. The Academics defeated Weaver in double-overtime in last year’s Class LL championship, while the Blue Dragons fell to East Catholic in the Class L final.
“We’re building and we’re missing a few players still,” Privott added. “The kids got a taste of going to the dance last year so they’re hungry and I’m hungry.”
WEAVER 65, MIDDLETOWN 64
(at Ray Oosting Gymnasium, Trinity College)
Middletown 17 9 22 16– 64
Weaver 21 16 9 19 – 65
Ahmod Privott 4 1-2 16, Dayquan Singletary 3 2-2 8, Charles Sprowl 1 0-0 3, DeAaron Lawrence 4 3-4 13, Jayden Bermudez 2 1-4 5, Markevious Snead 5 6-14 17, Aveon Woods 1 0-2 2. Totals: 20 13-28 64
Chaylyn Martin 8 8-12 25, Jaecee Martin 7 1-6 15, Tyler Chambers 0 0-1 0, Alex Rodriguez 3 0-0 9, JaQuan Williams 3 1-2 7, Andre Lyons 3 3-5 9. Totals: 24 13-27 65
3-point goals: Middletown 7 (Privott 3, Lawrence 2, Sprowl 1, Snead 1); Weaver 4 (Rodriguez 3, C. Martin 1):