By Kevin Eickman
Just two weeks ago, the Milford girls’ basketball team suffered a crushing home defeat at the hands of Woodbridge. The defeat threw open the door to the Southern Division title for Woodbridge and gave Milford no margin for error. Milford could have easily felt sorry for themselves and simply packed it in. Instead they buckled down and focused on the five remaining games on their schedule, which include three divisional games that Milford could not afford to stumble on if they want to retain their South title.
Following the Woodbridge game, Milford reeled off three consecutive wins. They also caught a break when Woodbridge suffered a loss to Lake Forest. With the defeat, the door was once again open for Milford, as they needed to win out to continue their reign as Henlopen South Champions.
This past Friday Milford hosted Lake Forest in a game with a great deal at stake. With a victory Milford would be one victory away from the South title, a loss would open the possibility of a three way tie between Woodbridge, Lake and Milford. If it came to that, point differential would turn out to be the deciding factor.
When the two teams met to start the season, it was a tough and physical affair, this past Friday was no different. On thing that was different however was the play of Milford sophomore Jameshia Baker. The Milford guard started the game on fire, hitting almost every shot she took. Baker accounted for the first 11 points Milford scored. Baker scored those 11 points in just over three minutes, while the Milford defense was on lock down. The Buccaneers made it a point to pressure the Lake shooters on the outside, forcing numerous turnovers in the process. The result was a 20-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
From there Milford would keep applying the pressure, continuing to add to their lead. The result may have been their best half of the season as they entered the locker room with a 39-18 lead, in large part to the defense and rebounding of Milford’s lone senior Xitali Roman. “I have coached Cee since sixth grade, I remember when she couldn’t shoot or dribble or just about anything,” coach Leona White said. “To see how far she has come and what a major part of the team she is, is a testament to all the hard work she put in.”
While Lake would make a few small runs, they were never really able to get back into the game. Baker finished with a game high 20 points and Milford emerged with a comfortable 56-48 victory. Baker was confident from the start. “I was feeling good before the game started,” Baker stated. “There was nothing that was going to distract me tonight.”
Milford has just one game remaining this Tuesday at 5-13 Delmar. A victory will earn the Bucs the Henlopen South Championship and the automatic tournament birth that goes with it. Looking back at the Woodbridge loss, it may have been a blessing in disguise. “Our girls really put in a lot of work after that loss, they made up their minds they wouldn’t let it happen again.”