By Kevin Eickman
With the weather playing havoc on the Buccaneers’ schedule one thing remained constant, the Buccaneers needed to find a winning formula. With their record at 5-5 (2-2) it was time for Milford to shed their mediocrity if they are to make a run at the Henlopen South title, or even qualify for the State tournament.
In their first action in almost a week, Milford traveled to Sussex Central on Friday night to battle the Golden Knights. Things did not start well for the Bucs as a slow start in the first half found Milford on the short end of a 34-27 score. While it may not have been a divisional game, it was still a game the Bucs needed to win. Milford responded with a third quarter that put them back into the game, and gave them a chance to take control as they outscored Central 17-7 to gain a 44-41 advantage.
Milford closed out the game in solid fashion with the senior tandem of Jason Parker and Tikeace Harris scoring 21 and 20 points respectively. It was a combination that coach B.J. Joseph had previously stated the Bucs needed to be Successful “We need both of those guys to be effective to win,” commented Coach Joseph. “If either one of them is off we tend to struggle.”
There was little rest for Milford as they turned around and hosted Divisional foe Seaford just one day later. The game represented the chance for Milford to gain a victory against a quality team, that they desperately needed.
If there was a sense of desperation on the part of Milford, it was not evident in the first quarter. Playing mostly a zone defense, the Bucs seemed to struggle to find a rhythm. With each passing possession, Milford continued to struggle. The result was an 18-11 first quarter deficit that looked like it could spell doom for the Bucs.
Milford abandoned the zone to start the third quarter and the positive results were almost immediate. Turning up the defensive intensity, the Bucs immediately found their way back into the game. The defense was stout and Milford took advantage of the fast break opportunities that presented themselves as they went on a 10-0 run to start the quarter.
“The zone was not working for us so we went to man to man and that seemed to work for us,” Joseph stated. “Tonight felt like a game like we played against Cape, like we played against Mervo. It seemed like we had the energy from everyone, which is what we need.” The result of the inspired second quarter play was a 31-23 halftime lead for the Buccaneers.
Central would not go away quietly however as they chipped away at the Milford advantage, closing the gap to 40-38 as the fourth quarter began. Time and time again in a tense fourth quarter, Milford would extend their advantage only to have Central respond. However, there was going to be no topping the Bucs on this evening. Parker, with 22 points, and Harris, with 20 points, always provided a response that Milford needed.
Perhaps the signature moment of the game came late in the quarter as Central looked like they might be taking control. Harris found himself down on the low post and what followed was a monster dunk, which saw Harris explode to the rim as he brought down the house. The energy that it provided was so intense, it was almost unsettling to the Buccaneers. Milford did settle down and found their feet, able to close out the game down the stretch.
While their free throw shooting was not perfect, it was enough to get the job done as they converted the key shots when they needed it most. Talking with Parker after the game, he was happy that he was feeling healthy again after battling through some illness
“I had the flu and I was diagnosed with diabetes this year and having both together was really bad and I wasn’t up to my game this year,” Parker said. “Now that I amm healthy again I guarantee we are going to go on a winning streak now.”
Milford earned the hard fought 67-62 victory to move their record to 7-5 (3-2) and keep their hopes for the Henlopen South title alive. Now it is up to them to take advantage of the opportunity. Milford will travel to Seaford on Tuesday night for a rematch, before hosting Woodbridge on Thursday. Tip-off for both contests is 6:15 pm.