Maddox leads Lady Spartans to big win over rival

FELTON – It doesn’t matter which sport they’re playing, Milford and Lake Forest are fierce competitors every time they take the same field or court.

Friday night’s girls’ varsity basketball match-up was no exception.

The two schools play each other twice a year, splitting the two-game series 1-1 a season ago. Lake Forest struck first this year, pulling away with a 50-37 victory in Felton.

Senior forward Mya Maddox led the way for the Spartans’, dropping a game-high 29 points.

“This is always a rivalry game for these two schools,” Lake Forest head coach Trenita Shields said following the win. “We’re so close in proximity that it’s always an intense game. They’re friends too, so it makes it a battle of ‘I’m going to impose my will on you, but we can still be friends at the end of the day.’ It was like that last year, and it’s been like that since I got here.”

Lake Forest sophomore Grace Aguilar dribbles the ball down the court against Milford Friday night (Ben Heck/The Journal).

The first half, riddled with borderline foul calls on both sides of the court, made it clear why these two schools are rivals. Aggressive play and a strong will to defeat their team’s closest-in-proximity foe.

Tempers flared in the second quarter following a hard foul called against Milford, and both teams’ star players – Rajene Bowe for Milford and Maddox for Lake Forest – expressed immense passion on the court during a brief stop in play.

Tough, physical defense from both squads in the first half resulted in 11 team fouls against Milford and 10 against Lake Forest.

While the score was just 7-5 in the Spartans’ favor by the end of the first quarter, an 11-of-13 performance from the free throw line in the second quarter allowed Lake Forest to jump ahead 24-15 at halftime.

It was the third quarter in which Maddox began to take control of the game for her Lady Spartans.

At the half Maddox had eight points, but in the third quarter alone she put 14 points on the board and hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to give Lake Forest a double-digit advantage heading into the final quarter of play.

She went on to score seven of her team’s 12 points in the fourth quarter en route to the 50-37 victory.

Lake Forest seniors Arika Burrell and Alexia Cornish cheer on their teammates during the Spartans’ 50-37 win over Milford Dec. 16 (Ben Heck/The Journal).

A different mindset at the half helped contribute to a strong second half performance.

“I told my team that I need their intensity levels to go up,” Shields said of her halftime adjustments. “But not only just on the defensive end. I needed them to start thinking the game of basketball. You don’t have to try to run up and down the floor with them, you need to be strategic at what you’re doing. That was the whole game plan for today, and I think that works well for this team in general.”

Maddox added, “I think the aggressiveness between the two teams really helped us. Coach told us to show the intensity now, because we have it but it’s just not there yet. So we just did what our coach told us to do.”

Six different girls scored for the Spartans, with senior Arika Burrell putting up eight points and senior Yasmine Rowley adding another six. As a team, Lake Forest went 21-of-30 from the free throw line and made five three-pointers.

Shields attributed Maddox’s 21-point second half to better shots being taken, and the team performing better overall thanks to the spike in intensity levels.

“In the second half she showed a lot of heart,” Shields said. “I’m proud of her for that because in the first half she rushed a lot of shots. I told her to take good shots. It’s not about how many shots you can put up, it’s about how many good shots you can take.”

Shields continued, “The team started to get on the same page and they all started to move the ball effectively to where it was beneficial for us.”

Even this early in the season, only one thing is on Maddox’s mind.

“I’m just trying to lead them to a championship.”

Sports editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com

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