The last Middletown Middies game at historic Wade E. Miller Gym Friday night will be truly special for Lenny Robinson.
The long-time announcer for Middies games on TV Middletown – which went dark in 2016 — will do the game with former TV partner Marty Flesher streamed live at the Stratford Heights Church of God website, SHCOG.com.
Leaders of the church, where Robinson is media director, allowed Robinson to use the church video production equipment Friday at Wade E. Miller Gym, where Middies star Jerry Lucas was undefeated as Middletown won back-to-back state titles in 1956-57.
The Middies play their long-time Butler County rival, the Hamilton High School Big Blue, at 7:30 p.m. Friday Dec. 8 in the gym named for a former Middletown schools superintendent. It opened in December 1952.
Robinson and Flesher also will stream the Middies' first game at the new Wade E. Miller Arena at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9.
"Getting to do these two games also allows Marty and me to formally sign off the air with the conclusion of Saturday's game," said Robinson, president and broker of the Robinson Commercial Real Estate Group in nearby Germantown.
Middies games had been broadcast on WPFB-AM from the station's start in 1947 until 2011, when Northern Kentucky University's WNKU-FM bought the Middletown station. Robinson has done Middies TV games since 2001.
"A lot of people have talked with us both about missing our coverage. It really hit hard not being able to do the games, especially when you figure the games were always broadcast since the 1940s," said Robinson, a Middletown graduate and long-time basketball and football referee. His sons Geoff, Mark and Chip played basketball for the Middies.
After the Miller gym opened in 1952, the Middies won state basketball championships in 1953, 1956 and 1957. The Middies also were state runner-ups in 1958, 1959, 1976 and 1983.
Lucas, who starred at Ohio State and the Cincinnati Royals, won 76 consecutive high school games from 1955 to 1958. His only high school loss was his final game in the state tournament. Lucas returned to Wade E. Miller Gym in 2013 when the basketball floor was named "Jerry Lucas Court."
The Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer will attend Friday's game. Middletown and Hamilton players will wear 1950s throwback uniforms for the varsity game.
On Saturday, the Middies open their state-of-the-art 2,130-seat arena with the girls' junior varsity and varsity teams hosting Colerain High School at 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. The boys' teams play Lima Senior High School at 4:30, 6 and 7:30 p.m.
"With WPFB changing hands, and then TVM going dark, it left a void. Marty and I are really excited along with the crew assembled to do the games, and help make a little bit of history… While we can never resurrect the good old days, this is an opportunity that I couldn't let pass," Robinson says.
Fans wanting to watch the games should go to the Stratford Heights Church of God website and click on the "Media" tab. Both games will be streamed and recorded in high definition, Robinson said.