By Kevin Eickman
This past Tuesday, the Milford girls’ basketball team had the opportunity to do something they had yet to accomplish under head coach Leona White. While they had qualified for the State tournament the previous three seasons, the Lady Bucs had not won a tournament game. In hosting Delmarva Christian, the Buccaneers would have the chance to finally get in the win column.
From the start it looked as if Milford would once again struggle in the playoffs as they fell behind early and looked out of sync. The failures resulted in a 6-3 deficit midway through the first quarter, with the Buccaneers searching for answers. “I think it was nerves, I think it was senior night. A combination of the two,” offered White when asked about the slow start.
It would be senior leadership that would shake Milford from their lethargy and turn the tide in their favor. Seniors Jonae Boone and Kala Fluitt would turn in big first half performances that would enable Milford to enter the locker room with a 27-14 halftime advantage. “Once Kala and Jonae pulled the girls together, we had a positive outcome,” White stated.
The second half would be more of the same for the Buccaneers, with the defense continuing their relentless pressure. On offense junior Jameshia Baker would provide the spark, recording 25 points in the half. “Our coach told us we needed to push it. So we started pushing it and got in a rhythm.,” Baker stated. “We just wanted to win, win and make it to the second round.”
Win was exactly what Milford would do. As they began to roll, it was becoming obvious that they were going to outlast Delmarva Christian and there was nothing they could do about it. By the time the clock hit zero, Milford had outscored their opponents 66-29 with a running clock.
The victory would be bittersweet for White as she knew it would be the last time she would have the opportunity to coach her three seniors, Boone, Fluitt and Tierra Hadley on their home court. “I’ve had all three of them since they were in the sixth grade,” White said. “It’s like my kids are leaving me and heading off to college. I’m gonna miss it, because they brought a lot to the table.” Continuing to speak about the group White would conclude, “They will always have a special place in my heart because they got me my first tournament win as a coach.”
Speaking with Boone after the game, things were pretty simple when thinking about her final home game. “I was just thinking about winning. It was my last home game, senior year, lets just win,” she stated.
Milford would travel up to number three seeded Sanford on Thursday, with a tall task in front of them. Going against one of the top teams in the State, the Buccaneers would fall to their hosts by a score of 65-25. While the outcome may have been predictable, it does not diminish what Milford accomplished this season. Battling through injuries, they finished runners up in the Henlopen South and won a playoff game. Even though the season did not go as they envisioned, they never quit and that is what counts.