Pictured: Elijah Wilborn goes to the rim for two of his game-high 24 points in Middletown’s Division II first-round win over Law. (Photo by Paul Augeri)

By Paul Augeri
middlesexcountysports@gmail.com

MIDDLETOWN – Middletown rode through the rough waters of a three-point second quarter, which cost it the lead at halftime against Jonathan Law, but recovered in the second half to advance in the CIAC Division II tournament on Monday night.

Senior forward Elijah Wilborn scored a game-high 24 points and Matt Steuerwald’s consecutive 3-pointers to open the fourth quarter iced the outcome as Middletown beat Jonathan Law 58-47 in first-round play at LaBella-Sullivan Gymnasium.

Steuerwald finished with 13 points and Nasir McDaniel scored 9 off the bench as the win set-up a second-round road game against Prince Tech in Hartford on Wednesday. Middletown beat Prince 48-43 at home in a January regular-season game.

Matt Steuerwald pushes the ball into the frontcourt with Jonathan Law’s Cameron Upchurch in pursuit in the second half. Steuerwald hit two crucial 3’s early in the fourth quarter to put the game away. (Photo by Paul Augeri)

“If we take care of business on Wednesday, anything can happen,” first-year coach Eric Holley said after his first state tournament win. “The overall effort tonight, the focus, the intensity, I’m really happy about that.”

John Neider led the Lawmen (10-11) with 14 points and senior forward Anthony Andriolas contributed 11 in his final game.

Behind 12 points from Wilborn and 5 from Steuerwald, the Blue Dragons jumped out to a 21-10 lead in a first quarter of runs. Middletown scored the first seven points of the game, Law countered with a 9-0 run and the Dragons recovered with a 12-1 surge over the next four minutes.

The lead evaporated, though, in the face of Law’s zone defense, which nearly posted a shutout in the second quarter. Middletown wasn’t allowed any second-chance shots, mustering just a 3-pointer by Omar Gutierrez with 1:15 left in the second quarter. Law led 25-24 at the break.

But, as it did at the game’s start, Middletown came out strong in the second half. Tied at 34, McDaniel buried a 3-pointer to start the Dragons on a 9-0 run over the final 1:35. McDaniel converted off of a steal, Dariyon Drake scored underneath following another McDaniel steal, and Steuerwald made both ends of a one-and-one with 1.7 seconds on the clock to put the Dragons in control at 43-34 heading to the fourth quarter.

Steuerwald turned out the lights with his two triples in the first two minutes of the quarter. A 3-pointer from Law’s Cameron Upchurch made it a 53-39 game with 2:50 left, but Middletown restored its lead to 16 (57-41) when McDaniel hit two free throws with 1:10 to go.

Tim Vaughters had 7 assists to go with 5 points, earning praise from his coach. Holley also singled out senior forward Dariyon Drake for his overall performance.

“Dariyon gave us huge minutes and great defense, and he was unselfish” Holley said. “That’s what seniors do and I’m happy for him.”

JONATHAN LAW (10-11)
Daniel Maxwell 2 0-0 6, Anthony Andriolas 4 0-0 11, John Neider 7 0-1 14, Cameron Upchurch 2 1-2 5, Nolan McKenna-Hansen 1 0-0 3, Liam Valvo 1 0-0 3, Lenny Ialeggio 2 0-0 5. Totals: 19 1-3 47.

MIDDLETOWN (16-7)
Matt Steuerwald 4 2-2 13, Tim Vaughters 0 3-5 3, Elijah Wilborn 11 2-4 24, Marshall Butler 1 0-1 2, Dariyon Drake 2 0-1 4, Chace Petgrave 0 0-0 0, Nasir McDaniel 3 2-2 9, Omar Gutierrez 1 0-0 3, Adison Brown 0 0-0 0, Brandon Torres 0 0-0 0. Totals: 22 9-15 58.

Score By Quarters
Jonathan Law…10 15 9 13–47
Middletown…….21  3 19 15–58

3-pointers: Law Andriolas 3, Maxwell 2, Valvo 1, McKenna-Hansen 1, Ialeggio 1; Middletown Steuerwald 3, McDaniel 1, Gutierrez 1.

In other games Monday night:

Boys Division II 1st round: No. 14 Westhill 70, No. 19 Xavier 47

XAVIER (12-10)
Ethan Bessoni 0 0-1 0, Colby Ciampi 2 0-0 4, Vik Vakati 1 0-2 3, Anthony Parker 8 2-4 20, Aidan Driscoll 5 0-2 11, Mark Schoonmaker 3 0-0 6, Sam Rector 1 0-0 3. Totals: 20 2-9 47.

WESTHILL (15-6)
JeySon Slade 7 6-7 22, Anderson Graham 3 6-8 15, Aidan Lamothe 4 3-4 11, Chris Gattuso 1 0-0 3, Sergio Lemus 3 0-0 6, Jeremiah Winchester 2 0-0 5, Nosir Thruton 1 0-0 3, Nito Christon 1 0-0 2, Chris Helliem 0 3-4 3. Totals: 22 18-23 70.

Score By Quarters
Xavier……8 13 17   9–47
Westhill..17 10 18 25–70

3-pointers: Xavier–Parker 2, Rector 1, Vakati 1, Driscoll 1; Westhill–Graham 3, Slade 2, Gattuso 1, Winchester 1, Thruton 1.

Girls Class LL Quarterfinals: No. 3 Middletown 61, No. 11 Danbury 46

DANBURY (16-8)
Tenley Wallin 3 1-1 7, Chloe Perrault 12 0-0 24, Cam Froehlich 0 0-0 0, Viviana Flores 2 0-0 5, Amar’Ryi Edwards 4 2-3 10, Jolie Osborne 0 0-0 0, Gabby Kufuor 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 3-4 46.

MIDDLETOWN (20-3)
Shalyn Smith 6 3-4 15, Jada Bryant 1 0-0 2, Alexa DeSena 1 0-0 2, Tyah Pettaway 8 4-6 22, Shadae Bushay 6 0-1 15, Ava Studinski 1 0-0 3, Kaila Torres 1 0-0 2. Totals: 24 7-11 61.

Score By Quarters
Danbury……14 12 12  8–46
Middletown..20 17 15 9–61

3-pointers: Danbury—Flores; Middletown—Bushay 3, Pettaway 2, Studinski 1.

Boys Division IV 1st Round: No. 16 Valley Regional 56, No. 17 Nonnewaug 43

James Marsden had 14 points and 8 rebounds and Simon Partyka finished with 8 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 steals in the Warriors’ win in Deep River. Valley will play Shoreline Conference rival and top seed Cromwell in the second round on Wednesday in Cromwell.

NONNEWAUG (10-12)
Ben Conti 2 3 8, Dylan Chung 1 0 2, Ben Roden 6 0 14, Ben Stewart 2 2 7, Aiden Colby 4 0 8, Ben Feraci 0 0 0, Charles Rickenbach 2 0 4, Totals: 17 5 43.

VALLEY REGIONAL (11-11)
Zach Kirla 0 0 0, Di’Angelo Jean-Pierre 1 1 3, Simon Partyka 2 3 8, Andrew Yermenson 2 1 6, Kevin King 0 0 0, Sam Hutchinson 11 1 23, James Marsden 5 0 14, Brayden Shea 1 0 2. Totals: 22 6 56.

Score By Quarters
Nonnewaug…….6 11 17 9–43
Valley Regional..22 8 13 13–56

3-pointers: Nonnewaug–Roden 2, Conti 1, Stewart 1; Valley–Marsden 4, Partyka 1, Yermenson 1.

Boys Division IV 1st Round: No. 10 Morgan 67, No. 23 Woodland 50

WOODLAND (8-13)
Brady Anderson 5 2-4 13, Cory Mastropietro 3 2-4 10, Bob Moriarty 4 2-2 10, Nate Bodnar 2 2-4 7, Ethan Stepputtis 1 6-8 9, Jon Henry 0 1-2 1. Totals: 15 15-24 50.

MORGAN (16-8)
Drew Nye 7 2-2 16, Cooper Galdenzi 5 6-8 17, Alex Fratamico 8 1-2 17, Connor Duffy 7 0-4 14, Eddie Dwake 1 0-0 3. Totals: 28 9-16 67.

Score By Quarters
Woodland…..6 9 20 15–50
Morgan…….22 16 9 20–67

3-pointers: Woodland–Mastropietro 2, Anderson 1, Bodnar 1, Stepputtis 1; Morgan–Galdenzi 1, Dwake 1.

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