By Kevin Eickman
Following a tough loss to Woodbridge last week, it was important that Milford win both their home games this past week. A loss in either game would put Milford two games down in the Henlopen South and do serious damage to their hopes of securing a post season bid.
While both games were big, hosting Laurel on Tuesday had just a bit more ramifications to it. The Bulldogs entered the game 7-2 (4-0) in the South, a victory over Milford would give Laurel a huge advantage in the South.
Milford started out strong, combing solid defense and a cohesive offense as they sprinted out to a 17-7 advantage. Laurel would chip away at the Milford advantage in the second quarter, outscoring the Buccaneers 17-4 to close within seven points as the teams entered the half.
Laurel continued their hot play in the third quarter, continuing to close the gap on Milford. By the time the third quarter concluded, Milford held a slim 44-43 advantage. “We knew Laurel was a good team and we expected them to make a run,” coach Spath commented. “While we didn’t like the fact that Laurel got back in the game, we really liked the way that we responded to it.”
Milford responded by putting together a solid fourth quarter effort, outscoring Laurel 21-17. The victory featured some sharp shooting from sophomore Henry Nesmith, who was 4-4 from three point range, on his way to a game high 19 points. The win brought Milford’s Henlopen South record to 3-1 and put them into a three way tie in what promises to be a contemptuous division .“The South came right down to the end last year and it will this year as well, these teams love to battle each other,” Spath said.
Hosting 5-6 Indian River on Thursday presented another challenge for this young team. Following the key win on Tuesday, it would be interesting to see how the team responded. Milford looked to be a bit flat in the first half, particularly on the offensive end of the floor. The result would be a 24-24 tie in the first half and a general feeling of concern on the part of the Buccaneer faithful. “The first half was really strange, we just didn’t seem to be on our game,” said Spath. “I told the guys in the locker room, I expected the second half to go much better for us.”
Spath was on the money with his assessment as the Milford offense began to to look more fluid. Milford quickly took the lead in the third quarter and put the pressure on Indian River. While the Indians would continually try to close the gap, Milford always had an answer. In the third quarter that answer came in the form of sophomore Damon Coleman, who was 3-3 from three point range on his way to a game high 20 points. “I was lucky enough to find myself with the open shots. When I’m open like I was, I know I can make those shots,” Coleman stated.
In the fourth quarter, with Laurel turning to the press, the Buccaneer offense changed a bit. This time the key baskets came courtesy of junior Son Martinez. Martinez who finished the game with 17 points, continually found himself open for shot-range jumpers and seemed to convert them all. “Our offense is all about getting the ball to the open man, I was the open man,” Martinez stated. “This team has been getting better every game and that’s just what we want to keep on doing.”
Laurel will have a quick chance at revenge as Milford will travel this Tuesday to face the Bulldogs. Spath knows this will be a big challenge for the Bucs. “Like I said, they are a real good team, so I have no doubt they will be gunning for us.” Spath stated.