By Kevin Eickman
While 0-4 might not be the start the Milford girls basketball team was looking for, the team has been making progress as they continue to find their strengths and weaknesses. This past Thursday they hosted a Smyrna team also seeking their first victory. While the Lady Bucs hung around early, mistakes and a tough time at the free-throw line eventually made the difference in a 40-28 defeat.
“We came out pretty strong tonight and played hard. We just didn’t take advantage of a lot of the chances we had,” Coach Kevin Barkley stated.
After the teams were knotted at six following the first quarter, Smyrna turned up the heat on defense and the application of pressure on Milford netted results. With Smyrna sophomore Deleon Foster taking advantage of fast break opportunities, Smyrna was able to extend their lead to 18-11 at the half. Foster led all scorers with 11 points.
“Foster is quite a player and when she was able to get out on the break and take advantage of it,” Barkley said. “She played a good game tonight and was a big reason they [Smyrna] won.”
While Smyrna was able to take advantage of their offensive opportunities, the Buccaneers had a difficult times in transition. Often, fast breaks resulted in a missed pass or a turnover. The Buccaneers had a very poor night at the line and it was a key difference in the game.
“We had a tough time at the stripe tonight, we have been working on our free-throws but it didn’t show tonight,” said Barkley.“We are going to continue to work on them and just like everything else, we are going to get better at them.”
The Buccaneers were strong on the boards but could not take advantage of transition. Barkley has been working on the team and at times you could see glimpses of what is possible with this team. “We are a group getting to know each other and it’s taking a little while to get to where we want to be,” Barkley commented. “But you could see it tonight, when they got it right, it was just the way it’s supposed to be. I can see that this group is starting to get it and I believe we are going to continue to improve as the season goes on.”
After their deficit was increased in the third quarter, it would have been easy for Milford to pack it in. Instead, they turned up the intensity and had their best quarter of the season as they outscored Smyrna 14-13. While it may sound like just a moral victory, Barkley believes that it shows more about this young team.
“We can teach them a lot of things, we can work on shooting, dribbling, offense and defense. The one thing we can’t teach them however is heart and this team has a lot of it and I believe that in the end it’s going to pay off,” said Barkley.
Speaking with senior captain Rachel Sharp, she believes in her teammates. “We are working as hard as we can and we can see the improvement,” she said. “We are really getting to know each other better and I believe it is starting to show on the court.”
Milford will travel to Lake this Tuesday and then will have three more games on the road before their next home game against Caesar Rodney on January 10. Tip is set for 4:45 PM.
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