By Kevin Eickman
In early January things looked like they were right on schedule to secure the Henlopen South Championship. However, on the week of January 8 things changed and changed quickly for the Buccaneers. Milford lost back to back road games to Laurel and Woodbridge, dropping them to third place in the division and leaving them looking for answers.
The one thing that Milford could hang their hats on was the fact that they would get to face their rivals later in the year. That opportunity presented itself last Thursday and this Monday as the Bucs hosted their conference foes in back to back games.
Hosting Woodbridge on Thursday, Milford started slowly and had a difficult time finding a rhythm in the first half. Finding themselves trailing by eight points halfway through the second quarter, Milford buckled down and began to take matters into their own hands. With pressure defense and opportunistic offense, the Bucs chipped away at the Blue Raider lead. It looked as if Milford would go into the locker room with just a two point deficit, but senior Octavion Wilson hit a rare three pointer at the buzzer, to give Milford a 28-27 lead at the half. “It was kind of strange that OT was in a position to take that shot, but I told him since he did not call glass it really didn’t count,” coach BJ Joseph joked.
Joke or not, the basket was just what the Buccaneers needed. Milford kept up the pressure in the second half and outscored Woodbridge 19-10 in the third quarter to give them what looked to be a solid 10 point lead. Much like the end of the second quarter, the third ended with another three pointer at the buzzer, this one courtesy of senior Tikeace Harris, who ended the game with a game high 35 points. Talking about where Milford is at right now, Harris wants the Buccaneers to stay focused. “My big thing right now is just to stay humble,” Harris stated. “We’re not the same Milford team we used to be. Coach gave us a talk and that is all it took.”
The effort Thursday night resulted in a 74-69 victory, and making their Monday night match up against Laurel all the more meaningful. The game against Laurel was all Milford hoped it would be, as they established themselves early, and never let up, in what was arguably their best effort of the season. With senior Jason Parker (31 points) and Harris (26 points) leading the way, Milford blew the doors off the Bulldogs in the first half. By the the time the half came to a close, the Bucs held a 48-30 advantage.
The route continued in the third quarter as Milford extended their lead 72-48, giving the Bucs the luxury of emptying the bench early in the fourth quarter. Even with their reserves in the game, Milford still managed to make a run at 100 points. Falling just short, with a final score of 99-82.
The win for Milford was huge as it has put them in the position to once again challenge for the Henlopen South. Talking with Joseph after the game Joseph believes his team has turned a corner. “We are starting to play like I thought we could all year. That is five in a row, this one was for the south.” Joseph continued “There is still a lot that can happen.”
While the 26 points for Harris were impressive, Joseph offered praise for other aspects of the seniors game. “Tike’s starting to be a leader you know sixteen assists in that game,” Joseph stated. The win improved Milford’s record to 10-5 (8-2 in the South). The victory against Laurel was one that Milford had been waiting for, following the their early season loss. “We have been thinking about this game for a long time,” Jason Parker commented. “Ever since we lost to them at Laurel we have been thinking about them.”
Catching up with Wilson, he likes where this team is at as well. “It was team play, that is what it was. We played that team before, and really didn’t have Jason under control with his flu and stuff,” Wilson stated. “So getting him back and playing as a team was pretty good.”
Now tied for the lead in the South, Milford will travel to Smyrna on Tuesday, before hosting Indian River on Thursday at 6:15.