By TJ Millman
The Milford Boys Basketball Team had won 9 of their last 10 games coming into last week, and ended up losing two consecutive games by a total of two points. The Bucs blew a 10 point fourth quarter lead against last year’s finals runner-up Smyrna High School, losing 61-60, and then lost again at the last second to Lake Forest by a score of 60-59. The Bucs now sit at 12-5, and are still looking good to make their way into the dance come tournament time. Perhaps the biggest letdown for Milford is the fact that their loss to Lake Forest puts the Spartans on top of the Henlopen South Conference. A win for Milford would have all but guaranteed the title, and now the Bucs have to wait and see if Lake stumbles closing things out for Milford to have another shot.
When the Bucs traveled to Lake Forest last Thursday, Milford Head Coach Lamarr Shorts knew that his team was walking into a hostile environment, and had to burn a timeout very early in the game after his team fell behind 8-0.
“I just told the guys to settle in. Coming into this game, I knew my guys were ready, and I knew that Lake would be ready too. Our guys were excited, emotional, fired up…all of it. I knew that would turn into either being on top of an 8-0 run or being on the bottom of it, but I knew that it wasn’t going to last. I called that timeout to say, “Hey…the nerves are out now. It’s time to play our game,” and I thought we did a good job of getting right back into it,” Shorts said.
The Bucs did climb back into the game, with seniors Daniel Shockley and Jaxson Turner leading the scoring charge and seniors Nick Sivels, Dion Warner, and Trevaughn Aiken standing out defensively. Milford and Lake traded blows for the rest of the half, and at halftime the game was tied 29-29. In the third quarter, Milford again fell 8 points behind, but this time it was due to the offensive explosion from Lake Forest shooting guard Jaysem Vasquez.
“He’s really good when he’s going to his right, and we wanted to try and keep him away from it, but that kid was relentless. He managed to get into the paint on us early, and when we adjusted to shut that off, he started knocking down his mid-range jumper. He played a great game, and he was really hard for us to guard,” Shorts said.
As the year has gone on, Milford has really emerged as a team to overwhelm you on defense and then hit fast three-pointers in transition, but against the Spartans the Bucs showed more of their ability to get to the rim and score on the interior.
“We have really good outside shooters, but we don’t want to just fall in love with one style of play. We want to keep other teams honest, and to do that we need to make sure that we can score in all types of ways, from anywhere on the court. We did a good job tonight of mixing in our long and short range abilities, and I think that’s why we were able to get so many quality looks,” Shorts said.
Milford still has to play last year’s state champion St. Elizabeth HS and a 13-3 Caesar Rodney team, so the Bucs’ season is far from over. Milford’s next game is on Tuesday, February 12 at Indian River High School. Tip-off is at 6:15 PM.
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