By Kevin Eickman
One of the benefits of winning your division in the Henlopen conference is getting the chance to play in the the conference title game. This past Friday the boys traveled to Dover to do battle with the Henlopen North champions. It is an opportunity to win a trophy but more importantly it is a valuable tool to get ready for the playoffs.
Prior to the start of the season, first year coach Bob Spath stated that the teams goal was to get better and be peaking come tournament time. If Friday night was any indication, Milford looks to be ready for the tournament. Facing off against a 19-1 Polytech team, the 12-8 Buccaneers were decided underdogs. Early on Milford started a bit sluggish, missing a few shots and falling a bit behind. The tide began to turn as Milford’s defense began to take control. In a slow pace first half, Milford kept on narrowing the gap, eventually ending up trailing just 17-16 as the teams entered the locker rooms.
Milford came out quickly in the third quarter, forcing several Panther turnovers and eventually building a substantial lead. Milford was clicking on all cylinders as Polytech was struggling on both ends of the floor. The result may have been Milford’s best quarter of the season, limiting Polytech to just two third quarter points as they built a 27-19 advantage as the teams started the fourth quarter.
From there it was all Polytech. Pressing Milford proved to be a very successful strategy. Steadily Milford’s lead dwindled and what was once a lead became a deficit. With just under two minutes to go, Milford was playing from behind. Every time the Bucs would close within two, the panthers would have an answer. Time was now the enemy of the Buccaneers.
Milford found themselves trailing by four with just under a minute to go at 53-49. Buccaneer sophomore Son Martinez nailed three pointer with 19 seconds to go as the Bucs found themselves within a single point. Forced to foul Polytech, Milford would have the ball and a three point deficit. Milford lone three point attempt was off the mark and two more free throws from Poly would seal the deal 47-42.
Spath, named Henlopen Conference Coach of the Year, felt it was important to keep the game in perspective. “We definitely wanted a victory tonight, a few plays in our favor and we would have had one,” Spath said. “Our goal is to get ready for the tournament, I think we did a good job of that tonight.”
Milford enters the tournament the 16 seed, meaning they will host 17 seed Delcastle this Wednesday at 7 pm.