By Kevin Eickman
The Milford boys basketball season has not been what coach Lamar Shorts had hoped for prior to the season. While attempting to implement a new system, he knew there were going to be some bumps along the way. What he didn’t know was how difficult the transition would be. Shorts understands that in order for the Buccaneers to be successful in the long term, Milford would have to take a step back and really work on the half-court game. While running and gunning is fun and can produce some short-term success, the ultimate goal is to build a sustainable model to make Milford basketball relevant for years to come.
“We knew going into the year it was going to be tough, but it had to be done. You have to be disciplined in the half-court game to win and we have been working on it,” Shorts said. “While it hasn’t been as easy a transition as I had hoped for, we are beginning to achieve the results we have been working for.”
On January 23, Milford hosted Sussex Central and it was a game that the Buccaneers were favored to win. However, just because something is expected of a team doesn’t mean it always comes to pass. With good team play, a stout defense and good decision making when it counted Milford defeated the Golden Knights 61-47. The win marked the first time the Bucs had been victorious since December 17. “It was really good to get back on the winning side for us. It’s important for morale, but it also instills a belief in the system for the players,” Coach Shorts said.
Milford and Central traded baskets early in the contest, with the Buccaneers looking a bit sluggish out of the gate. The Golden Knights’ senior Isaac Pettit served as a spark for the visitors as he moved the ball nicely up and down the court. For Milford, the motion offense was a little slow to get in gear, but once it did the Bucs increasingly showed confidence as the game wore on.
“We didn’t come out as quickly as we wanted to, but we stayed with the plan. Once we started getting in the groove, we could see it was going to be our night,” senior Lamonte Isabell said. Isabell would finish the game with 13 points and 10 rebounds. The first quarter ended with Milford holding a slight 17-15 edge.
The second quarter featured more back and forth action, with Central continuing to hang with the Bucs. It wasn’t until the closing minute of the first half until Milford showed that it could put together the type of run it needed to distance itself from Central. With a 7-0 run to close out the half, Milford would close out the half with a 32-24 lead.
What made the lead sweet was how the quarter ended. Coach Shorts called a timeout with just under six seconds remaining. Shorts set up a play on the inbounds with a play set up to draw the Central defense into the lane and then pass the ball to senior Jarvis Jarvis in the corner, just beyond the three-point line. He buried the shot as the buzzer sounded.
“That was just a good team play right there. Everyone did their job and all I had to do was stand there and wait for the ball to get to me,” Jarvis said. “My teammates did such a great job getting me so open, I would have been embarrassed to miss the shot.”
Central would never threaten the Buccaneers again as Milford stretched its advantage to 20 points at times. Milford enjoyed a real advantage in the paint as it easily outrebounded its opponent.
“We brought some of the younger and bigger guys up tonight and we were able to use our size to our advantage. It was a real good team effort by everyone tonight,” Shorts stated.
The win is Milford’s third of the season with eight more games remaining. While the goals may be a little different, the mission is still the same “As long as the players keep on giving the effort they have been giving, I can’t complain.” Shorts said. “We’re getting more comfortable with the system each game and that is what’s important. Once we get everything down, the wins will come.”
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