Newburgh Free Academy’s boys’ basketball team faces Middletown in the Section 9, Class AA semis this week, and it will be the third time this season the Goldbacks and Middies play each other.
The Middies are 2-0 with a pair of close victories, the last one coming Tuesday, Feb. 19 in Newburgh with a 56-54 win.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times in a row,” said Frank Dinnocenzio, Newburgh’s coach. “Hopefully my guys step up to the task.”
The Goldbacks led 16-11 at the end of the first quarter, and 25-20 at the half. Middletown’s Marquis Gill scored in the third quarter, and the Middies led 27-25, but Newburgh staved off the visitors’ surge and led 41-35 at the end of the third quarter.
Middletown finally moved ahead in the fourth. Newburgh’s Caleb Simmons landed a pair of free throws to cut the Middies’ lead to 50-49 with 2:27 left in the fourth quarter. Simmons hit a three with three seconds left to cut Middletown’s lead to 56-54, but that’s as close as Newburgh came to getting a victory that was within their grasp entering the fourth quarter.
Unique Hicks scored 10 points, and Amarri Tice scored 8 points with a pair of threes. But Simmons’ three was the only long shot that landed in the fourth quarter.
“We shot horrible. We had layups and couldn’t make the layups,” said Dinnocenzio, after his team dropped to 11-8. “We needed someone to make some outside shots and couldn’t step up.”