Bucs keep pace in South with 70-59 victory over Woodbridge

Milford’s Jaxson Turner battles Woodbridge’s Jamon Kane (0) and Richard Massey (2) for a rebound. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

BRIDGEVILLE — Milford High coach Lamarr Shorts has been preparing his boys’ basketball team for a game like this all season.

In Thursday night’s physical, fast-paced road contest at Woodbridge High, the Bucs came away with a 70-59 victory to remain at the top of Henlopen Conference Southern Division standings.

The Bucs extended their win streak to five games and have won nine of their last 10 games.

“It’s supposed to be [physical], and I don’t expect anything different. I try to prep my guys all season for games like this, where it gets real physical,” Shorts said.

“They always say the best learning tactic is experience, so to say, so even though I’ve been prepping them it’s great for them to come out and experience it and come out with a win.”

It marks Milford’s first win over the Blue Raiders (9-4) since Jan. 29, 2016, snapping the team’s five-game losing streak to their Henlopen South foe.

“We had all the heart in this game, we wanted it so bad,” said senior Jaxson Turner. “Since my freshman year we hadn’t beaten Woodbridge, so we worked so hard for this.”

Milford (12-3, 10-1 Henlopen South) and arch-rival Lake Forest High (12-3, 11-1 Henlopen South) remain at the top of the division with one loss each, but the Bucs currently hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Spartans.

Milford’s Daniel Shockley dribbles the ball down court in the first half of Milford’s 70-59 win over the Blue Raiders Thursday night.

The two division rivals meet again Thursday, Feb. 7.

“Our mindset right now is just to get better every game,” said Shorts. “To play games, to execute what we’re doing, so we just want to get better every game and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Senior Nick Sivels led the scoring for Milford, putting up a team-high 13 points. Turner and Dion Warner each put up 12 points.

Senior Jamon Kane led Woodbridge with a game-high 23 points, while Troy Haynes knocked down five three-pointers and scored 21 points for the Blue Raiders.

When these two teams met the first time this season in mid-December, Woodbridge used an explosive fourth quarter performance to pull away with a 24-point win on Milford’s home court.

“We had to turn up,” said Warner. We needed to take over. They beat us last time at home, so now it was our turn. It was time for us to win.”

This time around, Shorts made sure his Bucs came out of the gate with high energy from the start.

“It’s important for us to start fast,” said Shorts. “I’ve been telling these guys all year when we come into practice, if we’re not going, I tell everybody to go back, get in the huddle and talk to each other and then come back out and try again. It’s imperative for us to play the way we practice.”

The Bucs won the opening tip-off and Turner took all of four seconds to lay in the first basket.

After Milford’s defense forced a quick turnover on Woodbridge’s first possession, Turner drained a jumper from behind the three-point arc to jump ahead 5-0 just 19 seconds into the game.

Milford’s Terrell Gibbs scans the court for an open teammate in the first half.

“We knew that in order to win this game we have to come out hard, we have to come out fast,” said Turner. “This game is very athletic, it’s very physical, so we knew we had to match that physicality.”

Milford’s offense controlled the fast-paced game throughout the first eight minutes of play, taking an 18-15 lead to end the opening quarter.

Sivels and Turner combined for 14 of Milford’s 18 first-quarter points, including a pair of three-pointers from Turner.

Milford’s offense once again controlled the second quarter tempo, but a trio of three-pointers from Woodbridge senior Troy Haynes kept the Blue Raiders in it.

One of Haynes’ three balls was a halftime buzzer-beater as the Blue Raiders trailed just 34-33 at the halftime break.

The third quarter featured a tie game on four different occasions, but each time Woodbridge knotted the score Milford answered with a basket of its own to regain the slim lead.

Daniel Shockley’s jumper with 1:03 remaining in the third quarter put Milford ahead for good.

Warner knocked down a long-range three-point shot just seven seconds into the fourth quarter, taking the 50-45 lead, and the Bucs continued to roll with the momentum the two seniors created.

Milford put up 23 fourth-quarter points, and knocked down seven of 10 free throw attempts, to put the game away in the final minutes.

“The crowd controls the intensity, they control the atmosphere, and playing in that kind of atmosphere is what we all play basketball for,” Turner said. “That’s the best feeling in the world, to win a game in that atmosphere.”

Warner scored 10 of his 12 points in the final quarter, with Sivels, Turner, Shockley, Terrell Gibbs and Tyron Mifflin putting points on the board in the final eight minutes to solidify the 11-point win.

Shockley finished with 10 points. Gibbs (nine), Jarvis Jarvis (seven), Brock Hilligoss (four) and Mifflin (three) rounded out Milford’s scoring for the night.

“This group of boys, they’re something special,” said Warner. “I’m at a loss for words, these are my guys. I would go to war beside them because I know they’d go to war beside me.”

Reach staff writer Ben Heck at bheck@newszap.com

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