Late Lake rally not enough in boys’ hoops loss to Milford

FELTON – Five games into the season, the Milford High boys’ basketball team is still searching for its identity.

Even so, during the search the Buccaneers are still winning.

Spartans senior Dominique Griffith tries to go over Milford's Marcus Correa. (The Journal/Jeff Mitchell)

Spartans senior Dominique Griffith tries to go over Milford’s Marcus Correa. (The Journal/Jeff Mitchell)

Milford moved to 4-1 on the season and 3-0 in Henlopen Conference Southern Division play Friday night with a 74-60 victory over rival Lake Forest (1-3, 1-3) in a game where the Bucs at some points looked dominant and others sloppy.

“If you have seven or eight wing guys and only two spots, it ends up being a crazy rotation,” Milford head coach Bob Spath said. “It’s difficult and still a lot to figure out. But, we’re a good basketball team. We’ve got talent and experience, all those things, it’s just a matter of me and the coaching staff figuring out what that perfect combination is for Milford High School basketball.”

Ten different Milford players scored in the game, led by junior Brion Murray, who finished with 14 points. Marcus Correa had 13 on a night where he pulled down double-digit rebounds as well and junior Henry Nesmith chipped in with 12.

“I feel like I’ve got 10 guys who can be legitimate starters,” Spath said. “Depth is a good thing, but it’s even better when you have seven guys who have separated themselves from that 10-person pack. I’m having a hard time identifying those seven, or even eight, guys I would like to get in that rotation and focus on.”

Correa, who tallied five points in the fourth quarter when Lake Forest was whittling down what once was a 19-point Milford lead, would like to be one of those players in the main rotation.

Although not the typical big man, Correa’s athleticism and jumping ability allows him to battle in the post for rebounds and putbacks.

“I’ve never really played organized ball, so getting into the flow of the game can be weird,” said Correa, who landed awkwardly on his ankle in Milford’s first game of the season but is battling through a nagging injury. “It’s a learning process, and I’m trying to get better at it. As the season goes on, I’m planning to get better.”

Bolstered by a large home crowd, the Spartans took advantage of some Milford carelessness in the opening quarter and maintained a five-point advantage throughout most of the period before the Buccaneers netted four unanswered in the last 30 seconds to cut Lake’s lead to 16-15.

Milford's David Shockley starts his drive toward the hoop. (The Journal/Jeff Mitchell)

Milford’s David Shockley starts his drive toward the hoop. (The Journal/Jeff Mitchell)

The Bucs, however, cleaned up their play some in the second – Milford had six turnovers in the first period and 10 total at halftime – and after taking the lead minutes into the quarter never trailed again.

“I told the guys that’s just like dribbling the ball down and handing it to the other team 10 times and giving them 10 extra possessions,” Spath said. “If we do that during the course of the game, that’s 20 and that’s difficult to overcome.

“We talk about it all the time, pass and move, pass and move, pass and move, and when we don’t do that we get into trouble.”

With an 11-point lead late in the third quarter, Milford senior Devin Kravitz helped put the game basically out of reach with an and-1 layup and then another field goal following a Lake miss, making the score 49-33 with about a minute left in the period.

The Spartans’ largest deficit of the game came early in the fourth when Milford’s David Shockley hit a long jumper to give his team a 54-35 advantage. Lake, though, battled back over the game’s final five minutes and got to within seven of the lead. Poor free-throw shooting, however, kept Lake from getting any closer.

Senior Dominique Griffith led Lake with a game-high 17 points, junior Cam Lewis had 16 and sophomore Ahmanuel White finished with 14. The Spartans will not play again until Dec. 28 when they take on nonconference Newark in the Middletown Tournament.

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