Milford boys close in on South title with sweep of Woodbridge

MILFORD – With four games remaining in conference play, the Milford boys’ basketball team nearly wrapped up the Henlopen South last week.

After handily defeating Delmar on Tuesday, the Buccaneers (9-4 overall, 8-0 Southern Division) on Friday night used a strong finish at the end of both halves to defeat Woodbridge 46-41.

Henry Nesmith helped lead Milford to its second win over Woodbridge this season. (The Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

Henry Nesmith helped lead Milford to its second win over Woodbridge this season. (The Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

The win, Milford’s second over Woodbridge this season, put the Bucs two games ahead of the second place Blue Raiders in the division standings and gave them the head-to-head tiebreaker. All Milford needs to do to wrap up its second division championship in as many seasons is to win two of its remaining conference games.

“Before the game we went in knowing this would put us in really good position to win our second consecutive Henlopen South championship,” said Milford head coach Bob Spath, whose team lost to Henlopen North leader Dover last week in a nonconference game. If both teams win their respective divisions, they will rematch in a Henlopen Conference Championship game. “We really want to play Dover again. The guys had a really bad taste in their mouth after that game. It was a big motivator for us and it was almost like ‘we want to punch our ticket tonight (against Woodbridge), because we want Dover again.”

As he typically does in big games, Milford junior Brion Murray (12 points) sank a pair of clutch free throws late in the contest to help nail down the victory.

With Milford clinging to a two-point advantage and 30 seconds remaining on the clock, Murray was fouled during a scrap for a rebound and ended up sinking both free throws to put his team up 43-39.

“I’ve been here before, so I always have to be consistent with my free throws, especially in big time situations,” Murray said. “Like I said before, I’m a captain and everybody on my team and in the crowd has faith in me that I’m going to knock them down. So I’ve got to knock them down.”

Woodbridge on its ensuing possession forced an off-balance three-point attempt that was well off the mark and the rebound led to a quick outlet pass to junior Henry Nesmith whose uncontested layup sewed the victory up with 16 seconds remaining in regulation.

Nesmith, who scored eight points during an 11-0 late second quarter run that broke an 11-11 tie between the teams, finished with a team-high 16 points. He was also one of several Buccaneers that blocked multiple Woodbridge shot attempts while on defense.

“Coach talks about defense 24/7, so the block is much better than the layup,” Nesmith said. “This was a really big win. It gives us confidence, helps win the division and hopefully go to states.”

Milford held a slim two-point lead at the end of the opening quarter but built its advantage to 22-16 at halftime thanks to the 11-0 run. The Blue Raiders were able to win the third quarter 14-9 and actually held a brief lead during the period but Murray hit a layup near the buzzer that put his team back on top 31-30 and the Buccaneers never fell behind again.

On Tuesday Milford was scheduled to play at nonconference St. Andrew’s in a rematch of a game the Bucs won 36-33 earlier in the season. Friday, 6:15 p.m., Milford is slated to host suddenly red-hot rival Lake Forest.

From the Milford Chronicle Sports Desk

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