BOLTS

TALL ORDER — Littlestown’s Lucas Denault tries to shoot over Middletown’s Tajae Broadie during Thursday’s District 3 Class 4A championship game at Middletown. The Blue Raiders used a huge second half to pull away from the Thunderbolts, 69-53.

For 16 minutes on Thursday night, the Littlestown boys’ basketball team did just about everything it needed to in order to take home a District 3 Class 5A championship.

The Thunderbolts were stifling host Middletown on defense and were playing slowly, but methodically on offense to take a 21-19 into the half.

Unfortunately for the Bolts, there was still a half to play.

In that second half, the Blue Raiders erupted for 50 points and eventually pulled away to grab a 69-53 victory.

“They just pressured the ball,” Littlestown coach Jon Forster said of the second-half blitz. “They play a fantastic defense. They’ve got guards that are really aggressive defensively and they’ve got some big guys inside with good size and strength. They got stops, we had a couple turnovers here and there, and then you look up and the score kind of gets away a bit.”

Both teams struggled to find the flow offensively early on, but the Raiders (15-4) used their size and success on the offensive boards to pull out to an early 6-4 lead. Meanwhile, starting center Jake Bosley picked up two early fouls for Littlestown (17-4)

Bosley’s early foul trouble brought freshman Christopher Meakin off the bench, and the young Bolts center immediately paid dividends, scoring six first-quarter points and helping the visitors tie the score at 13-13 after one.

“He comes in and he’s not shying away from anything,” Forster said of his big man. “I think he had six points there real early and he stepped out and hit a nice jump shot. His upside is through the roof.”

Jayden Weishaar, who led Littlestown with 17 points in the contest, hit two free throws early in the second quarter to give the Bolts a 15-13 lead, but shortly thereafter Bosley picked up his third foul.

Littlestown was able to keep the hosts at arms’ length, however, as it held Middletown to just six points, including one field goal, in the frame and took a 21-19 lead into the intermission.

“We missed some bunnies inside there and we didn’t really get a chance to get out in transition,” Middletown coach Chris Bradford said of the first-half troubles. “We did our job defensively in the first half, we just weren’t getting good looks on the other end.”

Out of the break, the momentum swung quickly and strongly in favor of the Blue Raiders. Bosley immediately picked up his fourth foul and had to come out of the game, and then Tymir Jackson and Tony Powell ignited an 11-0 run to put Middletown ahead 30-21 with 4:47 left in the third.

Jackson and Powell combined for 12 points in the quarter and 39 points in the game, with Jackson’s 20 leading all scorers in the contest.

The Raiders pushed the lead all the way out to 37-25 with three minutes remaining in the half, but Rachard Holder came alive offensively for Littlestown to keep the visitors in it. Holder scored seven consecutive points for the Bolts to help them pull within eight at 40-32 with 1:30 left in the frame, but Middletown pushed it back out to double figures with a TJ Daniels layup to lead 44-34 after three.

Weishaar hit a trifecta with 6:25 left in the ball game to cut the Raiders lead to 45-38, but those would be his last points of the contest and as close as Littlestown would get.

A few minutes later, the Bolts star would pick up a pair of technicals after an incident involving he and Daniels, ending his night. After the free throws, Middletown held a 60-46 lead with just two minutes left to play.

“We talked to him and told him ‘look man, you accomplished a ton in four years,’” Forster said when asked what he said to a visibly upset Weishaar leaving the game. “I said ‘you’re a 1400-, 1500-point-scorer. You have a bright future.’ He’s worked so hard. I’m so proud of that guy.”

From that point, it was largely a formality as the Raiders closed out the 69-53 victory, ending the Littlestown season in the abbreviated playoff format.

“The town was behind these guys 100 percent, it’s just a shame that they couldn’t experience the full thing, coming out here and having our crowd behind us,” Forster said of what this year’s team has meant to the community. “We know those guys were home watching and these guys mean a lot (to the community).”

Littlestown 13 8 13 19 — 53

Middletown 13 6 25 25 — 69

Littlestown (53): Anthony Shirdon 0 2-2 2, Rachard Holder 4 0-0 9, Luke Denault 1 0-0 3, Braden Unger 4 0-0 10, Christopher Meakin 6 0-0 12, Jayden Weishaar 3 10-10 17. Non-scorers: Bosley, McKinney, Gazmen, Elliott, King. Totals: 18 12-12. 53.

Middletown (69): Jackson 5 10-14 20, Wall 1 0-0 3, Leach 2 5-6 10, Daniels 3 2-4 8, Powell 7 5-8 19, Broadway 3 3-4 9. Totals: 21 26-38 69.

3-pointers: L-Unger 2, Denault, Holder, Weishaar, M-Leach.

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