By Kevin Eickman
Entering Friday’s game at home against Woodbridge, the Milford Buccaneers boys basketball team had a lot of things going for it. They were 3-3, but more importantly they were 3-0 in the Henlopen South. One of the things working against this year’s squad was inexperience, both of these traits were on display as Milford played there first home game following a two week break for the Holidays.
Things went well for the Buccaneers in the first quarter, as they looked poised and efficient as the game began. Milford looked solid on both ends of the court, while Woodbridge was struggling. The Blue Raiders found themselves in early foul trouble and Milford took advantage of it, jumping out to an 11-7 lead as the first quarter came to a close.
The second quarter was more of the same for the Buccaneers, as they continued to maintain their advantage. A key for Milford was their ability to be successful on the defensive boards, something that has been a problem for them this year. “I was real happy with the first half, how we hit the defensive glass was something we have been working on,” Coach Bob Spath commented. “When guys box out and do their jobs we are very successful.” The result of their efforts was a 23-17 lead as the teams entered the locker rooms at the half.
As the third quarter got underway, the Buccaneers looked to be everything they were not in the first half. Starting with defensive rebounding, to put it simply they did not do it. Time and again Woodbridge would miss a shot, only to get two, three or sometimes four more shots at the basket. Coupled with the failure to stop Woodbridge on defense, Milford began to struggle. It was a deadly combination that spelled disaster for Milford. As the third quarter began to evaporate, so did the Milford lead. Before they knew what hit them, Woodbridge had put a 13-0 run on the Buccaneers and Milford was in trouble. “The second half was a very difficult one for us tonight,” Spath stated. “We did a very poor job of rebounding and we paid a huge price for it.”
With time running down in the third quarter, Spath called two timeouts in a row, attempting to get his team back on track. Following the second timeout, Milford went into a press defense which allowed Milford to close the gap to two. Unfortunately they would get no closer. Every time Milford would close the gap, Woodbridge was able to break the press and extend their lead. “When you get behind like we did you have to try something, but when you do that there is a price to be paid,” said Spath.
In this case the price that Milford had to pay came in the form of a 54-45 defeat at the hands of team they want to challenge for the Henlopen South title. “We had them where we wanted them, we came in here 3-0 in the South and we could have pretty much finished them tonight,” commented Spath. “Woodbridge is a very good team and you can’t afford to give them as many chances at the basket like we did tonight.”
The fact that Milford had played so well while winning 70-54 at Seaford on Tuesday is an indication that this team has what it takes to win. “You can’t play as well as we did Tuesday and the first half tonight and think that we aren’t capable of winning,” Spath said. “We have to learn that it is about hard work all the time, not just some of it.”
Milford has a big pair of division games this week as they host a 7-2 Laurel team on Tuesday, followed by a 5-5 Indian River team on Thursday. Tip off for both games is 6:15.