Murray lifts Milford boys to win over Seaford

MILFORD – It wasn’t pretty, but it was a win.

Just another day at the gym for the Milford High boys’ basketball team.

Som Martinez gets an open layup versus Seaford. (The Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

Som Martinez gets an open layup versus Seaford. (The Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

Playing from behind for most of the game, the Buccaneers rallied late to defeat visiting Seaford 47-43 Thursday night. The win kept Milford (7-3 overall, 6-0 South) unbeaten in its first trip through the Henlopen Conference Southern Division portion of its schedule.

“It was an ugly game, but we just slugged away and thankfully we got in the double-bonus early and made enough shots at the end,” Milford head coach Bob Spath said. “We got to the free throw line a lot and started knocking down some free throws, which we weren’t knocking down early, at the end of the game.”

Brion Murray went 5-of-6 for Milford from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, which the Buccaneers began trailing Seaford by two, and finished with a team-high 12 points. Along with the free throws, Murray added a pair of field goals in the period.

The junior getting to the line to help decide the game wasn’t an accident. With the score close and two minutes remaining on the clock, Spath moved him to point guard expecting the Blue Jays to foul.

“Brion shoots really high percentage free throws in practice and in games,” Spath said. “Against Delmar last year to win the South he’s the one who knocked down a couple free throws in clutch situations. He’s the kind of kid that’s a gamer. Brion’s the guy we were hoping to get to the free throw line.”

Brion Murray drives to the hoop in a win over Seaford. (The Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

Brion Murray drives to the hoop in a win over Seaford. (The Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

Murray was happy to oblige his coach.

“I love when it gets down to two minutes and it’s a tight game,” he said. “As a captain, I feel like I can deliver for my team.

“In my head, it’s just ‘knock them down,’” Murray added about his thoughts at the free throw line. “Free throws, we practice them so much, I should not miss them.”

Milford began the game with a press defense and early on Seaford seemed to have no problem beating it, passing down the court for quick buckets. In the opening quarter the Blue Jays led by as many as eight points before finishing the period with a 15-10 lead.

Action, however, slowed way down in the second. The Buccaneers fell back in a zone and rather than attacking Seaford methodically passed around the perimeter looking for the open shot. Those shots, however, weren’t falling.

Fortunately for the Jays, neither were Milford’s against the Seaford zone.

“These zone, if you’re not shooting just a little bit against them then they can pack it in even more,” Spath said. “You’ve got to shoot 15-to-17-foot jumpers over the zone at some point at every level. If you can’t make them… we shot probably six or seven air-balls from three. I hope it was just an off night.”

At the half, Seaford led 22-18 and despite giving up the lead for the first time in the game during the third quarter the Blue Jays finished the period leading 33-31.

In the fourth, though, Murray and classmate Henry Nesmith (10 points) helped Milford take the lead for good.

Although his team is on pace to repeat as Henlopen South champions and reach the state tournament via the division’s automatic berth, Spath said it has a lot of work to do if it hopes to make any postseason noise. The coach added, however, that the Bucs have half a season remaining to improve and will get a chance to do it against some quality opponents.

“We’re 6-0 (in the South) halfway through,” Spath said. “If we go through again and end up 12-0, division champions with no losses, that’s one of our goals. It’s a stepping stone potentially. For us to step-up and knock off some non-conference people… we’ve got a tough road game against St. Mark’s and one of the best teams in the state, Dover, next week here. It’s all in preparation for the tournament. Can we get out there and compete with the best teams in the state? Right now the answer is no, but we have some games to go. We have a chance to prove ourselves next week against Dover.”

The Henlopen North leading Senators come to Milford Thursday for a scheduled 6:15 p.m. game.

From the Milford Chronicle Sports Desk

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