MIDDLETOWN >> The surging Middletown High boys basketball team won again Friday night, blasting Bristol Eastern, 60-41, at the LaBella-Sullivan Gymnasium.
After an 0-3 start, the Blue Dragons are now 8-5 and have won seven of their last eight. With the win MHS qualified for the Class L state tournament and avenged an early-season, one-point lost at Eastern.
“I thought we played pretty well in spurts,” said Middletown coach Dave Sytulek. “But at times were were lackadaisical on defense. Offensively we played well, especially when we were patient.”
Middletown made life easy for itself by racing to a 21-3 lead early in the second quarter.
“It’s pretty tough to dig out of that kind of hole,” said Bristol Eastern coach Mike Giovinazzo. “We weren’t ready for the pace Middletown played at. You can’t simulate that in practice and you have to adjust on the fly. But by the time you adjust, it’s too late.”
Eastern (5-8) got off the deck in the second quarter and cut the lead to 25-15 midway through the second. But a little MHS flurry at the end of the period gave the Dragons a 30-17 lead at the break.
Middletown opened up a 19-point lead at 41-22 on a slam by O’Brien Watson – MHS had seven slam dunks in the game – with two minutes left in the quarter, but again the Lancers went on a 7-0 run and cut the lead to 41-29 after three.
Eastern continued its run in the fourth, cutting the MHS lead to nine at 43-34 with six and half minutes to go.
“We had the ball at that point,” said Giovinazzo. “Had we made a couple of intelligent decisions then, this might have been different. But we took a bad shot, the big kid [O’Brien, four blocks] blocked it and then all hell broke loose.”
Middletown took off on a 15-0 run, a run highlighted by three slams to take a 58-34 lead.
“They dominated the offensive boards,” said Giovinozzo. “When we play defense like we had to, that opens it up for the big guys and they hurt us.”
Watson had 13 rebounds to go with his four blocks and eight points, while the Dragons’ other big man, Brandon Simmons, had 15 rebounds to go with his three blocks and 14 points.”
“I thought Watson and Simmons had very good games,” said Sytulek. “Makai Hunter also had a very good defensive game on [Daren] McKoy. He had 14 points, but he had to work for them.”
Middletown, which is home Tuesday with Plainville, was 25-for-62 from the floor for 42 percent. Besides Simmons, Savon Williams was also in double figures for MHS with 10 points.
Mike Belton had 10 for Eastern.
Middletown starter Antonio White was ejected from the game with 7:23 left in the first half. He was called for a foul, was hit with a technical for something he said, then when he continued, was hit with a second technical, which under CIAC rules is an automatic ejection. He will sit for the next game.
“I’ve been informed that our administration will take further action,” said Sytulek.