By Kevin Eickman
It is not uncommon for a team to take on the personality of their coach. What is unusual is for it to happen quickly. If Tuesday night is any indication, the Milford girls basketball team is quickly following the lead of their first year head coach Leona White. All game long White and her staff, of Kevin Barkely and Sarah McNulty, had their team focused. The coaches never let up on the players, and the players never let up on their over-matched opponent, Woodbridge High School, on the way to a convincing 56-50 victory.
Milford set the tone from the start, contesting every possession and leaving nothing to chance. From the opening tip, it was obvious that this was a different Milford team from the one that had lost their home opener last Thursday, 47-44 to Sussex Tech. In the first half Milford ran the trap almost exclusively, not letting the Blue Raiders breath. Time after time, the Lady Bucs forced turnovers and scored on fast breaks on the way to a 27-20 halftime lead.
Sophomore Myleiris Vazquez was the ringleader of this group of ball thieves, providing a constant and unrelenting presence all through the game. Finishing with a game high 21 points, Vazquez was pleased with how well the game went for Milford. “We really played well out there tonight, it was a total team effort that I was just happy to be a part of,” commented Vazquez. “ We communicated so much better than last game, it made a great deal of difference.”
Starting the second half with a seven point lead, White backed off the press. Unfortunately for Woodbridge, it wasn’t going to get any easier. Milford is a young team, but they are a young team that has the potential to make some serious noise over the next few seasons.
The Milford crowd was given the first chance to see Woodbridge freshman phenom Altia Anderson, a player approaching 6 feet with enormous potential and remarkable polish for a ninth grader. With a look into what could become an reoccurring sight, Milford was able to match up with two quality players of their own. Junior Diamond Turner and sophomore Xtlali Roman provided a constant presence against Anderson, a factor that coach White believes played a pivotal role in the game. “Those girls where huge tonight, they provided defense, rebounding and scoring,” commented White. “It was a luxury to be able to have players like that in their tonight.”
Milford was not without their blemishes in this victory, after pushing the advantage to 13 points the Bucs let Woodbridge hang around a bit longer then they should have. A point that coach White believes Milford needs to work on. “We closed the game out but we could have done it a lot easier,” commented Coach White. “This is something we are going to have to work on in practice.”