MIDDLETOWN – WCPO Channel 9’s first warning chief meteorologist Steve Raleigh issued a freezing rain advisory Friday night due to the threat of freezing rain and ice on the roads.
The 6-foot-5 senior guard was red-hot against the visiting Colerain Cardinals. Snow had a game-high 27 points in the Middies’ 64-51 prep boys basketball win.
Snow is currently the leading scorer in the Greater Miami Conference with a 25.7 average. He logged 21 against Princeton in the season opener, 29 on Tuesday night at Sycamore and 27 on Friday in the Middies’ home opener.
“I’m happy to get the win tonight,” first-year Middletown coach Darnell Hoskins said. “However, I thought we could have played much better. Fundamentally, there is a number of things we could have executed better, especially down the stretch. I wanted us to learn from the result of Tuesday night’s game at Sycamore.
“I take the blame for that result, but I wanted to make sure our kids understand how important it is for us to make plays when a game is on the line. I wanted to keep the ball in Cliff’s hands tonight. He is not only our top scorer, but he is our best free-throw shooter too.”
Snow and the Middies jumped on Colerain early. Middletown started the game with a 6-0 run and led 16-8 after one stanza.
Defensively, the Middies worked to extend their 2-3 zone and forced the Cardinals to score from beyond the interior.
With 5:07 remaining in the second quarter, Colerain sophomore guard Rodney Wiley Jr. notched the first of his three 3-pointers and cut the Middletown lead to 20-16.
It wouldn’t be that close for long.
On the next possession, Christian Strother intercepted a Colerain pass and took it the length of the floor for a layup. Then the following final three minutes of the first half belonged Middletown’s Jomar Bailey.
It started with Bailey pinning an Eric Phillips layup attempt to the backboard glass. He then logged Middletown’s final four points of the second quarter to extend their lead to 26-18 by halftime.
“I thought Jomar played his best game of this young season tonight,” Hoskins said. “He was 8-for-10 from the free-throw line. I think he’s a player that’s capable of a double-double every night.
“We’re going to continue to push him. It’s our job to help him to grow more confident in his abilities. He is so athletic and can help us defensively when he attacks the glass.”
Middletown and Colerain added 11 points each in the third quarter to extend the score to 37-29.
However, with 1.2 seconds left in the third, the momentum swung in Middletown’s favor.
Snow drove to his right and pulled up for a baseline fade-away jumper at the buzzer. The field goal would be the beginning of his (and Middletown’s) next 10 points.
With 6:03 remaining, Middletown vaulted to its largest lead of the game (45-32) to that point. Colerain coach Tyrone Gibert called a timeout to halt the MHS run.
Gibert’s intervention seemed to work. Wiley hit back-to-back 3-pointers and drew the Cardinals within nine at 50-41.
Hoskins countered Gibert and the Colerain surge with a timeout.
With 2:11 remaining, an errant Colerain pass ended in Bailey’s hands. All alone, the 6-foot-6 senior elevated to slam home his fifth field goal, and the crowd erupted.
Bailey finished the night with 18 points, his third straight game in double figures.
In the final 95 seconds, Colerain sent Snow to the line three times, and he was 5-for-6. Overall, the Middies were 18-for-26 (69.2 percent) from the charity stripe.
“Last year I was kind of stagnant getting to the rim,” Snow said. “I know if I can find my way to the line, I can score. I want to do everything I can to help our team win.
“Tomorrow’s game is going to be a big stage for us. We’re excited to showcase what we can do.”
Middletown left right after the game and headed for Akron. The Middies will meet Lyndhurst Brush in the third annual LeBron James Classic at 2 p.m. on Saturday at St. Vincent-St. Mary.
“If we’re going to challenge our kids to compete at the highest level, we are going to have to take on situations like this,” Hoskins said. “Trips like this build camaraderie among the team. We’ll find out about where we are with our maturity and ability to handle success.”
COLERAIN (0-5, 0-3 GMC): Eric Phillip 3 0 6, Ja’von Hicks 4 5 13, Rodney Wiley 4 0 11, Marcus Tisdale 1 0 3, Chris Dorsey 2 2 7, Cass Carter 1 0 2, Jordan Hather 3 0 9. Totals: 18-7-51
MIDDLETOWN (2-1, 2-1 GMC): Nelson Rutledge 4 0 9, Cliff Snow 8 8 27, Christian Strother 2 0 4, Jawunn Bailey 0 1 1, Jomar Bailey 5 8 18, Aaron Jones 1 0 2, Keion Williams 1 1 3. Totals: 21-18-64
3-pointers: C 8 (Wiley 3, Hather 3, Tisdale, Dorsey), M 4 (Snow 3, Rutledge)