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Chargers to host Raiders tonight

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Standout junior guard Michael Bess of Middlesex gets a Lancaster defender airborne with a head fake in last week’s loss to the Red Devils. Bess scored 13 points against Lancaster and 30 points in Saturday’s loss to Essex. (Photo by Tom Hardin)

The intensity and aggressiveness of the Middlesex High boys varsity basketball team picked up in recent losses to Lancaster, 64-49, and Northumberland, 72-66.

“I think we are definitely making progress,” said Charger head coach Neil Bailey. “We have such an inexperienced team, so growing pains are inevitable.”

The Chargers only have two players returning off last year’s squad. 

On Dec. 11, Middlesex battled a good Lancaster team throughout the first half and trailed by only 27-25 at intermission. However, the Red Devils put 37 points on the scoreboard in the second half and went on to a 15-point win.

Malcolm Ward led Middlesex with 18 points, and Michael Bess added 13, including a pair of 3-pointers.

Nigel Rich and Shawn Lee added 4 points each, Davonne Bryant had 3, and Jake Fletcher and Sean Sutherlin added 2 apiece. Matt Duke hit a free throw. Cody Hunter played a solid floor game and battled the taller Devils on the boards.

NHS 72, Middlesex 66

Middlesex got a little closer to its first win of the season on Saturday against visiting Northumberland, but fell 72-66.

Northumberland outscored Middlesex 21-6 points in the third quarter to break open a close game and lead 61-42.

Middlesex, however, wouldn’t quit and outscored NHS 24-11 in the fourth quarter.

Bess had a season-high 30 points, including five 3-pointers, to lead the Chargers. Ward hit for 24 points, including two 3-pointers.

Markus Hammond added 6 points, Cody Hunter 5, and Rich made a free throw for the Chargers (0-5).

Middlesex was 12 of 22 from the free throw line, and Northumberland was 16 of 30.

“I am hoping that we turned the corner in the Northumberland game,” said Bailey. “Players are beginning to adjust to their roles and Michael (Bess) and Malcolm (Ward) really stepped up their scoring in the second half. 

“Michael [Bess] is beginning to feel more comfortable being aggressive and looking for his shot, which is a new role for him,” said Bailey about his junior guard. 

“Malcolm [Ward] also really showed good leadership in helping the younger players gain some confidence,” said Bailey. 

The next hurdle is consistency. “If we can achieve a focused, cohesive effort for 32 minutes, we can have some success,” said Bailey. “Our hope is that we can start to really come together in time for the first of the year. 

“We hate not winning games, but at this point it is most beneficial to keep our eyes on the big picture—District play and the Region A Tournament—so that we can reach our goals for the year,” said Bailey.

“I am proud of the effort from this team and the determination they have shown during this rough stretch,” said Bailey. “This has certainly been a new experience for me.”

Middlesex will host Rappahannock tonight, Dec. 18. The JV plays at 6 p.m. and the varsity plays at 7:30 p.m.

The Middlesex Holiday Tournament will be on Friday, Dec. 26, and Saturday, Dec. 27, at MHS. More details on the tournament will be in next week’s Sentinel.

posted 12.18.2008

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