By Kevin Eickman
This past week provided a microcosm of the Milford boys’ basketball season. After defeating Lake Forest on the road last Friday, all indicators pointed to a Tuesday win at Indian River and their first pair of back to back wins since the middle of January. Making matters more urgent for the Buccaneers was the looming specter of a Thursday road tile, facing a highly regarded 11-5 Caesar Rodney squad.
Having defeated Indian River earlier in the season by 30 points, Milford was looking to repeat the performance on Tuesday. Getting out to a fast start and able to score in transition, Milford looked as if they were going to make quick work of their hosts. With the score at the end of the first quarter 16-9, Milford was cruising.
Things continued to improve in the second quarter as the Buccaneers expanded their advantage to 14 points midway through the period. Slowly however, the issue started to turn in the favor of Indian River. The solid shooting that had been exhibited by Milford throughout the first half began to fade, while Indian River began to make a run. While it may of looked small at first, with Milford still holding a 12 point advantage with just over two minutes remaining in the period, things were about to change quickly. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, the Bucs lead evaporated. As the team’s entered the locker room, Milford held a slight 28-26 advantage and were on the ropes.
“I think we got lazy. I think we thought we were going to beat them by 30,” Coach Bob Spath stated. “I think that when we were up 12, we took some bad shots and we let them back in it.”
Despite the poor shooting, Milford was able to maintain the lead for most of the second half. It was not until just over two minutes remained in the game that the Buccaneers would give up the lead, with Indian River inching ahead 45-44. It was a lead that IR would not relinquish for the rest of the game. The result would be a 54-47 defeat for Milford, in a game the Bucs clearly let get away.
“We got out-hustled, I mean that’s my view. They were up in us all night, stayed in the same defense all night with a 1-3-1, we knew we needed to move the ball and we didn’t,” Spath said.
While everything that could go wrong did go wrong on Tuesday, Thursday proved to be a much better evening for the Buccaneers. Traveling up to Caesar Rodney, coming away with a victory looked to be a tall order for Milford. CR entered the contest sporting an 11-5 record, with their only losses coming against quality opponents.
Thursday would be different for the Bucs however, keeping pace with their hosts throughout the game. Trailing by just three points as the entered the final frame, Milford turned up the heat just when they needed to.
“Everything we did wrong on Tuesday, we did right on Thursday,” stated Spath. “The hustle was there, the shot making was there and more importantly we were solid on the boards. Having Marcus Correa back in the lineup made a world of difference to us in the game.”
With the Buccaneers getting hot in the fourth quarter, they blew past their hosts, outscoring CR by 11 points on their way to a 59-51 victory. Milford senior Brion Murray led all scorers with 17 points on the evening, as Milford improved their record to 10-7.
Just three games remain for the Bucs and Coach Spath is hoping that his squad will finally find the even keel they have been seeking. “Time is growing short, so we really need to solidify our overall game as we head to the tournament,” Spath stated. “This is about everyone working together and staying focused.”
Milford will travel to Laurel on Tuesday for a 5:15 tip, before hosting Seaford on senior night this Friday at 6:15.
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