Strong fourth quarter propels Milford girls to win over rival Lake Forest

MILFORD – After suffering through its least productive quarter this season thus far, the Milford High girls’ basketball team played one of its best.

Leading Henlopen Conference Southern Division rival Lake Forest for the entire first half, the Lady Buccaneers managed just two points in the third quarter and allowed the Spartans to tie the game 26-26 heading into the final period.

Mya Maddox tries to power through two Milford defenders. (The Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

Mya Maddox tries to power through two Milford defenders. (The Chronicle/Jeff Mitchell)

Boosted by senior Jonae Boone’s three-pointer to begin the fourth, however, the Bucs regained their early game form and ran away with a 50-40 victory that kept them undefeated at 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the South.

“I told them they had to get it together, get back to running our offense and be aggressive,” Milford head coach Leona White said of her team’s turnaround in the fourth. “That’s what they did.

“Oh yes, it (Boone’s three-pointer) lit a little fire,” she added.

That fire passed to senior Kala Fluitt, who despite her diminutive size banged away with Lake’s bigger girls in the post and tallied 10 of her game-high 16 points in the final quarter.

Fluitt played a large role in what was a 12-1 Milford run to open the quarter, first with an offensive rebound and layup that turned into a converted and-1. On Lake Forest’s next possession, Fluitt corralled an errant Spartans’ pass and scored on the fast break to help the Bucs move ahead by double-digits, 38-27.

From there, Milford’s lead, which reached as much as 17 points midway through the fourth, never fell back into single digits.

“I like being down there (in the post),” Fluitt said. “And I like boxing out and getting rebounds. Coach taught me well, and I’m going to use what she gave me to help my team.

“It (the win), means a lot for us, but we’ve got work hard and win the next game.”

Milford, the two-time defending division champion, is scheduled to play another South favorite, Woodbridge, at home Monday night.

Taking a 24-18 lead into halftime was almost literally a total team effort for Milford.

In the first quarter, the Bucs’ 12 points came from six different players netting two each. The second quarter mirrored the first for Milford until Fluitt sank a pair of free throws right before halftime to give her six points total heading into the halftime break. Meanwhile, four other Bucs had four points each at the half.

“It’s a teamwork game,” Fluitt said.

Neither team did much in the third, but with Lake holding Milford to just the two points in the quarter and junior Mya Maddox dropping five of her team-high 12 at the same time, they finished the period tied and setup what many thought would be an exciting final eight minutes.

Instead, Fluitt and Milford ran away with the win.

“I would like to play all four quarters of the next game (versus Woodbridge) just the same way we played that fourth one,” White said. “(Playing Lake and Woodbridge before the break) is a good thing, hopefully we get two wins under our belts.”

Notes: Lake Forest fell to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the South. Spartans junior Arika Burrell scored all five of Lake’s first quarter points and had nine at the half but was plagued by foul trouble throughout the contest and finished with just 11.

The Spartans will not play again until Dec. 28 in their own Pat Borowski Tournament. Milford, which will also play in the Pat Borowski Tournament, has Monday’s scheduled tilt with Woodbridge and a Tuesday bout versus Smyrna scheduled before the holiday break.

From the Milford Chronicle Sports Desk

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