By TJ Millman
Ask any basketball player and they can tell you that some nights, shots simply will not fall. This was the case for the Milford Bucs this past Thursday night, when in their third quarter against Woodbridge the rim seemed to shrink. The Bucs dropped to 5-8 on the season after the 69-47 conference loss, but the 22 point difference on the scoreboard does not reflect the story of the game.
In the first quarter, an early press from Woodbridge forced turnovers from the Bucs, and Woodbridge jumped out to an early 10-2 lead. After 2 early timeouts from Milford Head Coach Bob Spath, the Bucs were able to break free from the Woodbridge defense, and sophomore Jarvis Jarvis answered with a three pointer from the corner. The Bucs finished out the quarter on a 13-9 run and closed the gap to only trailing 19-15.
Milford and Woodbridge both stepped up their defensive pressure for the second quarter, and again both teams found themselves evenly matched. Woodbridge outscored the Bucs 12-11 in the quarter, but a majority of Milford’s points were generated from junior Terrell Gibbs attacking the basket. Gibbs and the Bucs drew multiple fouls on the Blue Raiders, and Milford was able to capitalize all night on free throw opportunities. The Bucs shot 80% (16-20) from the line, and Spath was happy with his team’s first half performance.
“The free throws kept us in the first half, but I was really happy with how we played defense. We played inspired defense, and if we had converted on a few more open looks, we could have at least been even going into the half,” Spath said.
Trailing 31-26, Milford came out of the locker room and stagnated offensively. The Bucs were still able to generate open looks, but they simply could not convert on their opportunities. As Milford struggled from the field, Woodbridge was able to get out on the run offensively and push the Bucs onto their heels defensively. Woodbridge outscored Milford 22-10, and this was the quarter that really put the game out of reach.
“We felt good at half. Guys were energized and ready to go. We just came out and missed shots. The game slips away when you can’t score consistently, and a good team like Woodbridge will put you away. We knew the weakness of their zone, and we were able to exploit it for open looks. We just couldn’t get the shots to fall,” Spath said.
Milford was able to tighten up defensively for the fourth quarter, but their shooting woes continued down the stretch. Milford’s leading scorers on the night were senior Daniel Shockley and sophomore Jarvis Jarvis. Shockley scored 14 points, 9 from beyond the arc, and Jarvis scored 10, adding two three-pointers of his own. Junior Terrell Gibbs also added 8 points, going 6 for 6 from the free-throw line.
One player who really stood out for Milford was junior Brock Hilligoss. Hilligoss only scored three points, but he did the dirty work for the Bucs pulling boards on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.
“Hilligoss is primarily a baseball kid. His development is coming along pretty quickly, because he hasn’t really given this much time to basketball before. He’s been a pleasant surprise for us. He knocks down open jump shots, he takes care of the ball, and he provides a lot of stability for our team. He’s always active on the floor, and he’s a great guy to have on this team,” Spath said.
Milford’s next game is Tuesday, February 6 at Smyrna. The tip-off is set for 7:15 PM.
Sign up for you free digital subscription of The Weekly Review, delivered directly to your email every Tuesday morning. A quick cover-to-cover read to catch up on the news of the week and experience great stories about our local communities. Sign up for your free email subscription below.