By Kevin Eickman
Facing an unknown team can be a difficult task. While you can know who their best players are and possible slow them down, there is little you can do to prepare you for something you have never seen before. That was the case this Thursday as the Milford girls basketball team hosted Padua in the second round of the DIAA Girls Basketball Tournament.
Padua played with a rough and tumble style, that gave Milford a very difficult time from the start of the game until the end of it. Trying to work the ball down low to senior Diamond Turner and junior Xitali Roman, Milford found it tough going in the paint. Every time the Bucs worked the ball down low, that player would be met by a host of Padua players.
The Padua defense clamped down on Milford, with a nine player rotation that allowed them to commit fouls, while still being able to keep up the defensive intensity. The result was a 7-3 Padua lead after the first quarter. The deficit probably should not have been as large as it was, as once again Milford struggled from the line. “I told the girls before the game, not making free throws can kill you,” coach Leona White stated.
The second quarter was not much better for Milford as Padua not only continued their aggressive play on defense, they began to open it up on offense. The result was a 26-15 Milford deficit, that seemed much larger than that “We just could not get back into the game.” White continued “We mad some little runs there, but we just never got all the way back into it.”
White was on target about her team not being able to get back into it. Every time the Bucs would close the gap to eight points or so, Pauda had an answer. The fact that Milford continued to struggle in the paint did not help matters. “We needed our big girls to work, and that really hurt us tonight,” White stated. With Padua once again outscoring Milford in the third quarter, the Bucs entered the final period trailing 37-25.
There was one thing this Buccaneer team has had all season, the ability to come back and learn from adversity. In their final game of the season, Milford would not go down quietly. With the mounting foul total finally starting to take its toll on Padua, Milford worked their way back into the game.
After all that had gone wrong, after all the times they failed to close the gap, Milford reached deep within themselves to make a game of it. Milford had worked the gap down to eight, with 3:30 left in the game. Coming out of a Milford timeout, the play was called for Milford senior Myleiris Vazquez (23 points) from three point range. Draining the opportunity, the Vazquez basket moved the Buccaneers within five and it looked as if Milford just might be able to pull it off.
“Making that three was big, I honestly thought that we really had a chance after that,” Vazquez commented. “I knew my team could come back, we gave it everything we had, but just didn’t get it done.”
While the loss was a disappointment, White did not let it take the luster off what was quite a season for Milford. “This was an outstanding season.” she continued about the Henlopen South Champions. “I think this is just the beginning.”