By Kevin Eickman
As the clock wound down on the final seconds of the Milford Buccaneer’s basketball season last year, the Milford faithful who had traveled north to the Bob Carpenter center rose to their feet and presented Milford with a standing ovation. In falling to eventual State Champion Sanford, Milford completed another step in the journey that head coach Bob Spath wanted for his team. In getting to “The Bob” Milford made it to the quarterfinals of the State tournament and continued the ascendancy that has been their goal in each of the first two seasons under Spath.
The Buccaneers will enter the 2016 season as two time defending Henlopen South Champions, looking to improve as the players continue to become more adept in Spath’s system. Last Tuesday as Spath was addressing the team during practice, he reminded them of the bar that they set for themselves.
“We have not lost a Henlopen South game since January of 2015, don’t think that the other teams in the South don’t know that,” Spath stated. “It’s always about getting better for us, it’s always about improving.”
While the goal is about improving, last year’s squad was a senior heavy group. Henry Nesmith, Devin Kravitz, Son Martinez and Devin Shockley, all were key contributors last season, were lost to graduation. This year, players are going to have to step up and fill the void of their departures if Milford wants to continue their winning ways.
One of the returning players is senior Brion Murray, who was a captain and leader on last year’s squad. Spath knows if Milford is to continue to get better, Murray will play a big part in the process. “Brion is a very special player, who can do a great many things on the basketball court,” Spath said. “He is a natural leader and we will ask him to continue in that roll as well as continue to improve his basketball skills as well.”
Two other seniors that Milford will be relying on are Tymire Riddick and Chris Sampson, both of whom grew into bigger and bigger roles as last season progressed. “Those are two guys who aren’t afraid to put in the hard work and really shows on the court,” commented Spath. “We are looking forward to these guys to keep on getting better.”
Milford will also be adding some players that have come up through the ranks of Junior Varsity and should see significant minutes. Players to keep an eye out for include junior Parker Chandler who will provide added size to the lineup, along with sophomore Jaxson Turner.
Quite a few of the Buccaneers played football this past season and will have a bit of work to do in order to get ready for the upcoming season. “I don’t think that those players getting in a bit late due to football will have much of an impact on them. They are very experienced and it will just be a matter of time until we get them into basketball shape,” Spath said. “If you stop and think about it, the fact that they were active throughout the fall is a big plus for us.”
The goals for Milford have not changed much, they want to win the Henlopen South and they want to continue to improve. A big challenge is expected to come from Woodbridge, who had a young team that really came on in the second half of last season. The Blue Raiders finished with a 17-4 record last season, falling to Sanford in the second round of last year’s tournament. Spath knows that they will be just one of the teams Milford will have to contend with.
“When you play in the South, you have to understand that teams will come ready to play you,” Spath stated. “There are so many talented players down here, you need to be ready every time you step on the court.”
Milford will open on the road this Friday as the tip-off against newest Henlopen South members, Sussex Academy, starts at 7:15. Milford will have another road game at Delmar, before hosting Woodbridge in their home opener December 8.
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