St Elizabeth basketball Aiden Tobiason dribbles against Avion Matthews from Middletown photo courtesy of Nick Halliday

Top ranked St. Elizabeth holds off late Middletown run

Glenn FrazerHeadlines, Sports

St Elizabeth basketball Aiden Tobiason dribbles against Avion Matthews from Middletown photo courtesy of Nick Halliday scaled

St Elizabeth basketball Aiden Tobiason dribbles against Avion Matthews from Middletown, photo courtesy of Nick Halliday

(Middletown)  There is a saying when a team starts out a game and can’t miss a shot, “they were in range when they stepped off the bus!” That’s how locked in the St. Elizabeth Vikings basketball team was when they raced out to a 22-12 first quarter lead, and extended the advantage to 45-22 at halftime. The Vikings connected on eight 3-point shots in the opening 16 minutes and at one point held a 42-16 lead. Temple commit Aiden Tobiason drained three of the long range shots and led the Vikings with 18 first half points. 

 The third ranked Middletown Cavaliers were in jeopardy of being “blown off” their home court, but head coach Azeez Ali had the team come out in full-court pressure to start the third quarter. The press made a difference as the Cavs went on a 15-2 run to slice the deficit to 11. Zion Mifflin and Clyde Frasier led the Cavaliers in that period, scoring 13 of the team’s 19 points. The defensive effort included several blocks by Akendre and Aviyon Matthews. The Viking lead that was as many as 26 points, had dwindled to 12 at the end of the third as the Cav’s Jack Murdaugh made a “three” with time running out.

The second half rally continued into the final quarter when Middletown outscored St-E 13-3 with 2:45 to go. The game was 56-54 as Aviyon Matthews continually powered his way to the rim, scoring 10 points including going a perfect 6-for-6 from the foul line. Then came a key moment of the game when coach Mike Cassidy inserted 8th grader DaShuan Holden in at point guard. Holden drove to the rim, scored and drew contact. The next possession, Holden again was fouled. He made both free throws and pushed the Viking lead to 62-55 with just 1:48 left. Middletown missed a couple of opportunities and was forced to foul. Tobiason made 7 of 8 free throws giving his team a double digit lead that ended the Cavalier rally.

After the game, coach Cassidy told us his team did a great job of rebounding, “we’re not a tall team, Aiden at 6-5 is our tallest player but he’s primarily a wing.” “We talk about rebounding together and crashing the board hard.” Referring to his 8th grader (Holden) coach remarked, “he’s special, he’s a press-breaker and a good ball handler.” “He’s good in the spread offense and setting up other players.”

Aiden Tobiason led the way for St Elizabeth scoring 28 points including going 11 for 14 at the foul line. Caden Harris chipped in with 11 while Kenneth Hunter Jr. And Julius Wright both added 10 points for the Vikings. They completed the regular season with a record of 19-1 and will probably get the top seed when the tournament committee meets Friday. 

Middletown had a 13-game winning streak snapped but is also likely to draw a high seed in the tournament. The Cavaliers were led by Aviyon Matthews and Clyde Frasier with 16 points each. Teammate Zion Mifflin added 13. The Cavaliers made three 3’s compared to 10 by the Vikings. Middletown faces Howard Wednesday night to complete their regular season, then will meet the Wildcats again Saturday for the Blue Hen Conference title.

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