Dragons Win Fourth In Row; Challenging Stretch On Tap

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Pictured: Middletown center Elijah Wilborn scores underneath in the third quarter of Monday’s home game against Bristol Eastern. The assist came from Kenny Fountain (far left).

By Paul Augeri
middlesexcountysports@gmail.com

MIDDLETOWN – The last four games for Middletown turned out rather comfortably in the Blue Dragons’ favor. They vanquished each of their “B” opponents – Bulkeley, Bassick, Berlin and, on Monday night, Bristol Eastern.

Against the Lancers, Middletown trailed 5-3 before finishing the first quarter on a 17-0 run. The Dragons ended up scoring 24 consecutive points, entered halftime with a 49-19 lead and continued to play hard to the final buzzer of an 82-46 CCC interdivision victory.

“We play that well together and good things are going to happen for us,” coach Rick Privott said.

Middletown’s front line of Elijah Wilborn, Donte Pope and Jonathan Nkonoki was a matchup nightmare for Eastern (5-6). The Lancers were kept away from the basket and missed 12 of their 13 shot attempts in the first quarter.

The Dragons’ defense fed their offense, which was excellent in transition, beating Eastern down the floor for the better part of three quarters.

“We shared the ball,” Privott said. “We got out and were able to run, which is big for us.”

Nkonoki scored 12 of his game-high 18 points in the first half, Wilborn kicked in 13 points and 9 rebounds and Roy McKeithan scored 11 off the bench. Eleven Blue Dragons got into the scoring column.

In their four-game winning streak, the Dragons prevailed by an average score of 76-57. They are 9-2, which is of no surprise to their coach.

“We did what we were supposed to do,” Privott said. “I don’t think we were favored against Windsor and I thought Glastonbury was a toss-up (both represent Middletown’s only losses). “We’re pretty much where I expected us to be.”

This next four-game stretch brings its own set of challenges. Some of their opponents are better than their records and the first three games are away from home.

In order:

Thursday: At East Hartford. The Hornets have won only three of their first nine games, but they pushed No. 2 Windsor to overtime and they beat a good Crosby team in December.

Saturday: At Weaver (site: Classical Magnet). This has been a rough season for coach Reggie Hatchett’s Beavers, who have one of the most difficult schedules a team can play. Weaver lost to undefeated Naugatuck by five in December. Two weeks ago, they stayed with Bassick before losing 77-72.

The Beavers’ schedule also includes Sacred Heart, Prince Tech and Northwest Catholic – all ranked in the Top 10 in the latest GameTime CT poll.

Monday: At New Britain. The Hurricanes, a state tournament finalist last season, are 8-3 after Monday’s win over Hartford Public. One of their losses came in overtime to Naugatuck.

Thursday, Feb. 6: Home vs. Bristol Central. The Rams have won 10 of their first 12 and boast sophomore center Donovan Clingan, who some consider 6 foot 10 and others say is 7 feet. At either height, he is more than a handful in the middle.

“We just have to be prepared and I’ve told the kids, ‘prepare to work harder than you’ve worked, ‘and be disciplined for these four games coming up,’” Privott said. “It heats up now.”

Middletown 82, Bristol Eastern 46

BRISTOL EASTERN (46)
Elijah Borgelon 0 3-4 3, Bryce Curtin 1 0-0 2, Elijah Parent 3 4-4 11, Nasir Walker 2 1-2 7, Jordyn Tate 4 3-6 15, Ty Donahue 0 1-2 1, Drew Fries 3 0-0 7. Totals: 13 12-18 46

MIDDLETOWN (82)
Mekhi Toler 2 0-0 5, Kenny Fountain 3 1-2 9, Jonathan Nkonoki 7 3-4 18, Donte Pope 3 2-2 8, Elijah Wilborn 6 1-12 13, Matt Steuerwald 2 1-2 6, Roy McKeithan 4 0-0 11, Richard Rivers 1 0-2 2, Erin Strong 2 0-0 4, Tim Vaughters 0 0-0 0, Dariyon Drake 1 2-2 4, Nahtayvion Durazzo 1 0-0 2. Totals: 32 10-16 82.

Score By Quarters
BE 5 14 16 11—46
M   20 29 24 9—82

3-Pointers: BE—Tate 4, Walker 2, Parent 1, Fries 1. M—McKeithan 3, Fountain 2, Toler 1, Nkonoki 1, Steuerwald 1.