Early foul trouble dooms Milford in home-opener

MILFORD – On occasion there will be games when everything that could potentially go wrong, does go wrong.

That’s likely how Milford’s varsity boys’ basketball squad felt Thursday night.

In the team’s home opener, the Buccaneers played host to the Woodbridge Blue Raiders in a key early-season Henlopen Conference showdown. Woodbridge controlled the tempo of the game and pulled off a 69-56 victory.

Milford never once held a lead.

Foul trouble and missed free throws played a large role in Milford’s 13-point loss.

Tyron Mifflin playing defense against Woodbridge in Thursday night’s 69-56 loss (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

“We got in relatively deep foul trouble,” head coach Bob Spath said. “I had four out of five starters who had three personal fouls coming into half time, which is the most foul trouble I’ve ever been in since I’ve been coaching basketball.”

The Blue Raiders, under leadership from head coach Julius Cannon, played fast, high-paced offense early in the game on their way to an early 11-0 lead. Milford slowly clawed its way back from a 14-2 deficit, ending the opening quarter down 22-11.

Senior Tymire Riddick drilled three three-pointers and Daniel Shockley added one of his own in the second quarter to bring the Buccaneers to within six points at the half. In the third quarter the score was brought to within four points, 47-43, before Woodbridge started to pull away for good.

“Not a whole lot went our way early, and we were kind of scrapping and fighting just to keep in the game the whole time,” Spath said.

In the fourth quarter, Woodbridge led by as many as 16 points before finally finishing the game ahead 13.

Early foul trouble for star Brion Murray had him on the bench for portions of the first half. Nearing the end of the third quarter, Murray’s fifth personal foul put him on the bench for good. He finished the game with nine points.

David Bowman goes up for a lay-up against a Woodbridge defender (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

“He’s our best player, and you don’t expect your best player to get in that deep of foul trouble that early in the game,” said Spath of Murray’s five fouls. “When he came out we just kind of had to substitute in and out to keep fresh guys in his spot and try to find some offense somewhere besides Tymire.”

Sophomore starter Tyron Mifflin also fouled out of the game not long after Murray. Marcus Correa and Riddick registered four personal fouls each.

As a team Milford struggled from the free throw line, hitting just 13 of 29 free throw shots.

“You’re looking at a four-point game that could have been a tie game, a six-point game could have been a two-point game,” Spath said. “So yeah, missed free throws are huge. We practice free throws every single day.’

Riddick led the way in scoring for the Buccaneers for the second game this season, putting up 22 points while draining four three-pointers.

Coming off the double-digit loss, Milford will prepare to play host to the Cape Henlopen Vikings Tuesday night at 6:15 p.m.

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

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