By TJ Millman
For every high school athlete, the end of the ride is always just around the corner. They play with their classmates from parks and rec, through middle school, and eventually through high school, and then the games stop. Unfortunately for the Milford High School basketball team, that ride stopped last Tuesday at Sussex Tech. The Bucs were senior heavy this year, with 11 of their 12 varsity players being seniors, and at the end it was tough for so many guys to say goodbye at once.
“It’s just heartbreaking. You know all game that you might not get to play with these guys again. In a few months we graduate, and we might not even see each other again. Life can take us anywhere. It’s just tough. I love these guys, and I wish we could run it back and do it all over again,” Milford senior Dion Warner said.
“Honestly, senior year came quick. I enjoyed it with my team…my family, and I hope to have a future in basketball in some way. The Milford program is just going to continue to get better, especially under the direction of our new coach, Lamarr Shorts. He did such a great job in his first year, and he’s going to take this team places,” senior Daniel Shockley said.
For Head Coach Lamarr Shorts, handling a last game for such a large senior class was familiar, though just as difficult as he remembered.
“It hurts, man. I was part of 10 in my senior year, so I know how it feels. As a coach it’s no easier. It’s difficult to play a last game, knowing that not only I, but also 10 or so other teammates are feeling the same pain. All you can really do is take it to the next level. Whether that’s college ball, college, life, whatever. You take these memories and lessons everywhere you go in life. You just have to take the good and bad, move on to the next stage in your life, and make the best of it,” Shorts said.
For the actual game, the Bucs traveled down to Sussex Tech to play in the first round of the DIAA State Tournament. The gym was sold out, and the fans were loud. Sussex Tech opened on a 16-2 run, but a pair of Lamarr Shorts timeouts calmed his team down early, and the Bucs managed to finish the quarter only trailing 23-13. Milford outscored the Ravens in the second quarter, and went into halftime trailing only 39-31. The third quarter was slightly in the Ravens’ favor outscoring the Bucs 17-13, and the fourth quarter was even worse, with the Ravens outscoring Milford 24-16 for a final score of 80-60. The game constantly swung back and forth, with both teams trading large scoring runs.
“It was interesting. I think we’re usually used to being the most aggressive team, and they really came out with the same mentality as us. Hats off to Sussex Tech, they really played a great game tonight. The crowd was huge too. Our fans this year have been great. We really feed off of that energy, and their fans did the same for them. All of those runs we had, that was our fans really pushing us to be great. Milford did a great job showing out tonight, and it’s something I personally look forward to in years to come,” Shorts said.
The Tech fans were rowdy during that opening 16-2 run, but Milford really managed to surge back off of the consistent play from senior Daniel Shockley.
“After hours and hours of hard work, you really don’t let the noise affect you. When I step on the floor, it doesn’t matter if it’s one person watching or one thousand. I’m still going to play my game,” Shockley said.
Despite the loss, the Bucs showed a ton of growth on the year. After going 6-14 only a year before, a 12-8 record with a state tournament bid is nothing to look past. Going forward, senior Dion Warner is still rooting on his teammates.
“Man…there’s nothing else we can do now but cheer for each other. We can celebrate our turn-around from last year…we made the playoffs after going 6-14. I’m just rooting for my guys always. I hope everybody stays focused in school, and takes their life somewhere. There’s so much out there for us in the world, and I can’t wait for us all to go get it,” Warner said.
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