By TJ Millman
It has been an interesting start to the season for the Milford Bucs Basketball Squad so far. After delaying their opener due to the school’s football playoff run, the Bucs opened with two wins, and have lost 4 straight since then. Their latest loss, a 47-59 defeat by the Laurel Bulldogs, came at the hands of Laurel senior Eric Pilot’s 34 point explosion. Pilot hit 7 three pointers of his own, and seemingly could not miss.
“Our guys were contesting those shots, but there was just nothing we could do on some of those. When a guy has a night like that, it’s the best shooting night of his life, and we just happened to be in front of him while he did it. If he even cools off in the second half we could climb right back into the game,” Milford Head Coach Bob Spath said.
In fact, even in spite of Pilot’s hot night, the Bucs still managed to show some determination in the second half. In the first half, Milford played a larger lineup, and the speed of the game appeared too much for the Bucs. Laurel pressed Milford’s bigs and caused many turnovers before the Bucs could even reach half court. At the half, Spath made a decision to switch to a smaller lineup, and the Bucs were finally able to break the Bulldog press and begin to apply defensive pressure of their own. Senior Tyreke Benson led the defensive charge, diving all over the floor to cut out Laurel passes.
“We are still experimenting with our rotations, and honestly it still feels like the preseason. We had 1 game in 22 days, and we have some young players who don’t have very much varsity experience. We need games. I want to play back-to-back-to-back so we can grind it out and figure out what we are and what we can do. Practice can only do so much,” Spath said.
While the Bucs showed an improved defensive performance, their offense still showed signs of playing too fast with the ball. Milford’s young guards were good at driving to the basket, but they consistently tried to go up over forwards who were significantly taller, rather than looking for the next pass.
“Our young guys are good at getting to the basket, but they are also used to playing on JV teams where those drives turn into layups. On varsity, there is usually a big guy down there waiting for you, and they are still figuring all of that out. That Laurel team had 9 seniors, and we have 2. It’s all a growing process for us. I’m not going to scrap this season just because we are young. Our guys have a lot of potential, but right now it’s all about advancing as far as we possibly can with these young guys,” Spath said.
One of those young guys was sophomore Dion Warner, who led the Bucs with 12 points, 6 of which came off of two three-pointers.
“I brought Dion up off of JV because he is scrappy…tough. You put a scrappy kid out there and he just wills himself to score 12 points. He wasn’t shooting a lot, it’s just his mentality. He’s a dog. He wants to get out there and mix it up, and he’s not afraid to shoot the ball. Some of our guys lack confidence right now, and we need to just keep shooting our way out of these slumps,” Spath said.
Milford plays their next game on the road this Tuesday, January 16, in a rematch with Laurel. The tip-off is set for 5:45 PM.
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