By Kevin Eickman
It is no easy task to win three basketball games in a row to start the season. However, that is just what the Milford Buccaneers boys basketball team accomplished this week. Milford completed the task this past Friday, with a road divisional game against a very game Woodbridge squad.
From the very start it was obvious that things just did not seem to be going the Buccaneers way, with every bounce seemingly going the way of the hosting Blue Raiders. Possession after possession, Milford looked to be doing the right things, the scoreboard simply did not indicate it. Milford’s defense was on point from the start, constantly causing loss balls and turnovers. They simply could not get any points out of their hard effort.
Milford had still managed to seize a 14-13 lead by the end of the first quarter, in spite of the lack of luck, along with some questionable shot selections by the offense. “Sometimes when things aren’t going your way, you will settle for some looks that aren’t necessarily what you want,” coach Bob Spath stated. “While there wasn’t a lot of it, we definitely missed a few opportunities early on. But it wasn’t something we did for the entire first half.” Making things just a bit more difficult for Milford, was the fact that their leading scorer, junior Henry Nesmith spent a major portion of time on the bench with foul trouble.
The second quarter was even stranger for Milford, as even with good scoring opportunities they were not having success on the offensive end. With each passing possession, some were left to wonder if this simply was not Milford’s night. After all, it was the second game on consecutive nights. Maybe the taxing game the evening before against a talented Saint Andrews team was taking its toll.
“I honestly don’t think that last night had anything to do with how the first half unfolded tonight,” Spath said. “Sometimes the bounces just don’t go your way.” By the time the dust had settled on the first half, Milford found themselves in a 29-23 hole.
The half time speech from Spath may have been one of the shortest he has ever given his team, especially trailing by six points. “There was nothing we were doing wrong, there were no adjustments we needed to make,” said Spath. “We knew that it was just a matter of time before things started to go our way, at some point we knew we would get our chances.”
Those chances came fast and furious as the second half opened as the Milford defense generated multiple offensive opportunities. With senior Devin Kravitz penetrating off the wing, Milford quickly closed the gap and was able to take the lead 34-33, four minutes into the second half. When the Raider defense attempted to clamp down on Kravitz, that is when things really started to look up for the Buccaneers. “Once they started to double me, I knew we had them where we wanted them,” Kravitz said. “When you leave one of our players open, we are going to make you pay for it.”
The main beneficiary of the Woodbridge defensive philosophy was Nesmith, who gladly gobbled up the open looks he was given. Nesmith hit five three-pointers on the night, leading all scorers with 24 points. “When I have open looks like I had at times tonight, it’s my job to knock em down,” Nesmith stated. “By nature I’m a scorer, so when you leave me open it’s my job to make you pay.”
With the Buccaneers hitting on all cylinders, there was little chance for Woodbridge, who caused problems for themselves by being in foul trouble for most of the half. One of the new varsity starters, junior Marcus Correa played a big part on defense and hit his foul shots down the stretch. “We are still learning about properly using Marcus, but his composure down the stretch was real impressive in the fourth quarter,” Spath said.
Milford would never trail again after taking the lead, holding Woodbridge to just 17 second half points. The result would be a 60-46 victory. Not only is Milford 3-0, but they have two divisional wins, having defeated Delmar in the home opener 62-40. The Buccaneers victory against Saint Andrews was a 36-33 win, coming in grind it out style against a highly regarded New Castle County team. Milford will continue their road tour this week, traveling to Cape Henlopen on Tuesday, before battling at Lake Forest next Friday. Tip for both games is 7:15.