By Kevin Eickman
This past week was anything but easy for the Milford boys basketball team. With two road games sandwiching a single home tilt, there was little doubt that it was going to be a challenging test for the Buccaneers.
The week started with a Tuesday road tilt at Indian River, that saw Milford increase their record to 5-2 (4-0), courtesy of a relatively pedestrian 63-42 score. In the game senior Devin Kravitz scored eight points for Milford, unfortunately those may be the last points for the Milford swing man for quite some time. During practice on Wednesday, Kravitz suffered an injury to his foot, leading to what is expected to be a prolonged absence.
Thursday evening Milford hosted non-conference opponent Saint Thomas More, who ventured into the Central Academy with a solid 7-2 record. What unfolded over the course of the evening, may have been one of the strangest basketball performances in Milford basketball history.
Starting with the opening minutes of the game, it was clear that the Milford team was flat. Not just a little flat, but head scratching flat. With the visiting Ravens playing primarily in a zone, the Buccaneers simply could not find a way to penetrate it. With each passing possession, Milford appeared lethargic, perhaps even disinterested at times. Unable to penetrate the St. Thomas More zone, Milford was settling for long range shots and not hitting them. The result was a fist quarter in which Milford found themselves trailing 11-5 when it came to a close.
“We started out flat and we just stayed that way for almost the entire night.,” coach Bob Spath stated. “Our offense did nothing in the first half, we needed to be swinging the ball around and trying to find opening, but we did none of it.”
The second quarter nay have been even harder to watch, with the Milford defense turning up the intensity, but unable to improve their play on the offensive end. While only scoring five points in the second quarter, the Ravens were actually able to extend their lead as Milford would only record four points. “The guys were just horrible in that first half, there was nothing we were doing that could snap them out of it,” stated Spath.
With the start of the second half, the situation for Milford actually got worse. To call the offense dysfunctional would be kind, it was beyond description how bad it was. With four minutes remaining in the third quarter, a check of the scoreboard showed Milford trailing 34-11. Facing a 23 point deficit, Spath had seen enough.
“It was about attitude at that point, I was going to send in the five guys that I thought were going to work the hardest,” he stated. The results were almost immediate, as Milford began to play pressure defense and fast moving offense, closing the gap rapidly.
As the fourth quarter progressed, Milford was demonstrating that they might just not be done yet. With each passing possession, St. Thomas More was becoming a bit more unnerved. The Buccaneers came within two, with just over two minutes remaining, but the Ravens were able to steady themselves down the stretch, making several key free throws as Milford was forced to foul with time running down. The result for the Bucs would be a 48-42 defeat in which they only played a quarter and a half of basketball.
“We have done this to ourselves before, dug a hole and then try to dig ourselves out of it,” Spath said. “This is something we have done before and it has cost us games before. We need to stop doing this, we can’t just give away points and possessions.”
Traveling to Laurel Friday evening, Milford more than made up for their shortcomings from the previous evening. From the start, Milford applied pressure and was able to score repeatedly off the break. Murray would lead all scorers with 16 points as Milford would cruise to a 60-45 road victory over the Bulldogs.
“I honestly think what happened Thursday had an impression on the team, they really came out with a sense of urgency,” Spath stated. “That is the kind of effort we are going to have to give every night if we want to win.”
With the victory over Laurel, Milford improved their record to 6-3 for the season and sit atop the Henlopen South with a 5-0 record. The Buccaneers will have a huge game this Thursday as a highly regarded Seaford team comes to town. Tip is set for 6:15.