By Kevin Eickman
Heading into her second season as the Milford High School girls’ basketball coach, Leona White set winning the Henlopen South as the teams first goal. This past Friday, Milford traveled to Lake Forest with that goal within reach. Knowing that a victory would earn Milford the title, the Bucs also knew that it was not going to be easy.
While they knew it would be tough, it also turned out to be a test of character for this up and coming team. The Bucs did not make things easy on themselves as they came out sluggish, while Lake came out playing solid basketball. Before they knew what hit them, Milford found themselves trailing 9-0 halfway through the first quarter. Coach White called a time out to talk to her team, getting them to focus on what they do well and keeping the game from becoming a blowout.
When asked what was going through her mind at that point, White’s answer was simple and to the point. “Oh my Lord,” she exclaimed. “Sometimes we have a hard time getting started, I just wanted to settle them down.”
Milford responded after the time out, quickly working the score to 9-5 in under a minute. However, on the final two points of the 5-0 run, junior point guard Myleiris Vazquez suffered an ankle injury and was forced to leave the game. With arguably their best player on the bench, the Bucs hung in there against the Spartans. “It was great, because we don’t just have one we have many,” White said.
Vazquez would return halfway through the second quarter and Milford continued to hand around. However, each time Milford would close the gap, Lake seemed to have an answer. The result was a 25-20 lead at the end of the second quarter.
The third quarter was another tough one for Milford, as Lake continued to play solid basketball. With each passing possession, it began to look as if this just might not be Milford’s night. Things looked darkest for the Bucs as Lake pushed their advantage to 36-24 as the quarter was nearing its close. Just then, a pair of key three-pointers, one by Vazquez and the other by freshman Jameshia Baker, cut the double digit deficit in half and gave Milford hope entering the fourth quarter.
Having trailed all game long, Milford would time and time again close the gap, only to fall short of taking the lead. Time was running out for the Bucs as they trailed 46-45 with under a minute to go and Lake having possession of the ball. Milford forced a turnover and found Vazquez on the break, she drove the lane and lofted the ball over her opponent and into the hoop. Giving Milford their first lead of the game, a 47-46 advantage that Milford would ride to victory.
Talking with Vazquez following the game, she was happy she made the shot, but also thrilled that her team came out with the win. “I’m going to put it up, hopefully it goes in,” she said. “We knew it was going to be tough, I’m just glad the team came out on top.” The victory moved Milford’s record to 17-2 (11-0 South) for the season. The Bucs will close out the regular season on senior night this Tuesday as the host the Delmar Wildcats. Tip-off is 6:15 pm.