By Kevin Eickman
By any measure, this has been an up and down season for both the boys and girls Milford basketball teams. While the girls (9-10) have been within a few games of .500 all season, the boys (10-9) started their campaign by losing their first six game, getting back to, and then past .500. No matter the trail the teams took to get here, they put themselves in a position to make runs at births in the upcoming State tournament.
Last week was a tough one for both squads, on Thursday the Lady Bucs tipped off against a very talented (15-4) Sussex Central squad at home. It was a game that found a young Milford squad chasing the Golden Knights all evening. Milford found themselves down 28-22 at the half and looked like they might make a run at the heavily favored visitors.
Unfortunately for the Lady Bucs, a focused and disciplined Central team emerged following the break. Using a pressure defense and a controlled offense, Central quickly distanced themselves from their hosts. By the time the dust had settled at the end of the third quarter, Milford found the issue had already been resolved as they trailed 50-28. While Milford junior Diamond Turner led all scorers with 21 points, it was too little to prevent the final score of 60-38. With their final game this Tuesday at the Central Academy, Milford could get to .500 for the season but has most likely been eliminated from competition.
On the boys side, Milford (10-9) traveled on Friday evening to Sussex Central (11-8) with a chance to cement their place in the tournament. While the point system for qualifying for the State tournament could confuse a math major, the math for the Bucs was pretty simple. Win two games and your in, lose two and your out, split and you will need some help to get in the tournament.
Milford wasted little time falling behind, with Tikeace Harris spending the first quarter on the bench, the Bucs found themselves trailing at the end of the period 12-5. The score could have been worse if not for the defensive work of Andrew Marshall, the sophomore who missed most of the earlier portion of the year due to academic considerations, who blocked five shots in the quarter and would end up with a total of seven for the game. “Andrew did well taking up space and blocking some shots, it was nice to have him do well,” coach B.J. Joseph said.
With Parker back on the floor to start the second quarter, Milford would make a run here and there to work their way back into the game. However each time they would get close, Central would once again pull away and Milford found themselves trailing at the half 27-22.
If the first half was bad, the second half was worse. All season long Milford had prided themselves in coming back in games they had trailed but on this occasion they showed little inclination to battle back on this evening. The only way to describe what happened in the second half, was an implosion. Poor passing, poor shot selection, poor rebound but most discouraging of all was the poor attitude that Milford demonstrated as the game got away from them. Milford got two separate technical fouls called on them in the second half, one resulting in an ejection. The play was not what Joseph had hoped for in a game as big as this. “This is certainly not what we where hoping for, this was a game we had to have but didn’t get,” commented Coach Joseph. “We know we’re a young team and this is part of the learning process.”
Milford will have to get over this loss and do it in a hurry. If they are going to have a chance to make the tournament they have to bring their best effort for the season finale on Tuesday, when the Buccaneers will be traveling to Cape Henlopen. Milford will be walking into a hostile environment, facing a Vikings team that will be looking to secure the Henlopen Conference title. “It is going to be a test for us, that’s for sure,” stated Joseph. “I have faith in these guys, I know they have what it takes to win and I think they will show it Tuesday.” Tip-off is 7:15pm.