By Kevin Eickman
Looking back on the Milford boys basketball season, it was easy to see that while the team was good, they were not without their flaws. Their starting five were dynamic, but suffered from a sized disadvantage. Their bench was young and untested, although not without talent. Seniors Tikeace Harris, Jason Parker and Octavion Wilson provided leadership and intensity for this group.
Last Wednesday all these characteristics were on display, as Milford traveled to Middletown for the first round of the DIAA State Tournament. In a battle between the 16th and 17th seeds, the Buccaneers came up on the short end of a 62-57 score. While Milford played a solid first quarter, managing a 15-14 lead as the period expired, they were about to be tested.
The Middletown Cavaliers began to assert themselves in the second period, as they wrestled the lead away from the Bucs, heading to the locker room with a 33-29 lead.
The third quarter however, proved to be Milford’s undoing. Middletown came out focused and fresh. While the Buccaneers had a tough time focusing on offense, the Cavaliers took advantage of their size and quickly had the Bucs on the ropes. Outscoring Milford 18-8, Middletown was poised to make it a blowout. “We played with an undersized team all year, and it’s very difficult to do that,” coach B.J. Joseph stated.
One thing that can be said about this Milford team however, is that they do not quit. Facing a 51-37 deficit, the Buccaneers dug deep as Parker helped to battle back with his game high total of 26 points, four of which were from three point range. Slowly Milford battled their way back into the game, closing the gap to three in the final seconds. A victory was not in the cards however as Middleton converted two key free throws to cement their first round, home victory.
While it was a disappointing end for a season that was filled with promise, it was a season that saw the Buccaneers return to the State tournament, after faltering down the stretch last season to miss out on the playoffs. “Our guys played very hard this season, we had a lot to overcome,” Joseph stated. “We were probably just a player or two away from being a force.”
Milford concluded with a 12-9 record, including their playoff loss. Milford also placed both Parker and Harris on the Henlopen Conference Southern Division first team.