Their coaching bond formed long ago, Darnell Hoskins and Pete Pullen now find themselves united at Middletown.
Both were the main men at their respective Dayton City League powers. Hoskins is in his second season in resurrecting the Middies program after leaving a great run at Thurgood Marshall. Pullen’s tenure at Dunbar was even more successful with multiple Division II state championships. He and the rest of the Wolverines veteran staff was not retained after last season.
When both were in their former positions, their matchups were must-see basketball.
“We had some great wars and it’s nice to have that on your side inside of playing against you,” Hoskins said.
“He was available and I reached out to him. I always had a ton of respect for everything that he did. I said, hey, man, I’ve got a good situation down in Middletown. Why don’t you take a look at it and if it’s something you think you want to be a part of, I’d love to have you.”
The Middletown reboot isn’t quite complete. Middletown fell 49-33 to Covington Catholic (Ky.) on Saturday in the 16th annual Premier Health Flyin’ to the Hoop at Fairmont’s Trent Arena. That dropped the Middies to 2-10 overall.
Hoskins is animated as ever along the bench. Pullen, a top assistant, is anchored on the bench.
“I wasn’t ready to quit coaching,” Pullen said. “I felt I still had something to contribute. This made it a little easier; I don’t have all the responsibility I used to have. I just come down and do what I love to do and that’s coach young men.”
Hoskins, a Chaminade Julienne High School grad and former Dayton Flyer, coached for one season at Springfield before taking over at Thurgood.
He envisions better days for the Middies, with Pullen a part of that.
“We’ve got a way to go, but we do have some of the things you look for in a big-time program,” Hoskins said. “We have great facilities, great resources and the Middie support is second to none. Once we do get it going in the right direction we’ll turn it into the monster it’s supposed to be.”
• A second Flyin’ game was canceled on Sunday, a highly anticipated showdown between Upper Arlington and Wayne. It was to be the last of 20 Flyin’ games. Instead, Upper Arlington administration wouldn’t allow the Golden Bears to travel because of worsening road conditions.
Both unbeaten, Upper Arlington was ranked No. 1 in the first Associated Press D-I state poll and Wayne was No. 2.
“We try to control a lot of things, but Mother Nature isn’t one of them,” Flyin’ creator Eric Horstman said. “At the end of the day we still had a lot of good basketball here.”
Horstman said he contacted other schools to take Upper Arlington’s place, but couldn’t make that happen in such a brief time period. It was the second Flyin’ game that was scuttled. On Saturday, Hilliard Bradley wasn’t allowed to travel and a game against Spire Academy was scrapped.
• Sam Towns’ Springfield teammates had a message for the emerging junior. Remember the free throw routine because it’s just like practice and there’s nobody here.
Except the 6-foot-7 center had all eyes at Trent Arena on him with 3.5 second left in regulation and Springfield trailing Cleveland Heights by one. And, he had already missed the front end of a bonus free throw situation.
“I was real shook,” Towns said. “I’m like, c’mon Sam, you got this. I just focused and locked in.”
Towns hit the biggest free throw of his Wildcats career to force overtime and Springfield posted a gut-check 73-67 defeat of Heights in Sunday’s night’s finale.
• Minster and Fort Loramie, separated by different conferences and counties but just three miles apart, both post wins in their Flyin’ debuts. Minster hit 10 of 18 three-pointers to rock Franklin Monroe 74-58 in Monday’s opener. That also was the Jets’ first Flyin’ game.
Loramie outlasted Thurgood Marshall 58-53 behind Dillon Braun’s three 3-pointers and 21 points. That pushed the Redskins to 12-0.
• Flyin’ drew its usual college recruiting interest. Dayton coach Anthony Grant was here most of Saturday. Coaches from Wright State, Xavier and Miami also were at Trent as were reps from Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Creighton, Michigan and Missouri among many others.
• Attendance figures are not announced, but Flyin’ usually draws at least 15,000 spectators over the four days.