Milford girls turned in season to remember
Thursday, March 7, 2013
MANCHESTER – When the buzzer sounded Monday night, ending the Division II semifinal game, Dina Pitsas didn’t crumple to the floor in disappointment.
The senior captain of the Milford High School girls basketball team turned to her teammates and applauded, even as Lebanon, the Spartans opponent, celebrated on the court.
It was the kind of reaction Milford deserved for season no one could have predicted, perhaps not even the Spartans.
Monday’s game marked the end of an incredible run that saw a Mlilford girls basketball team do things it hadn’t done in a long, long time, if ever before.
The Spartans accomplished the following during the 2012-13 season:
n For the first time, Milford defeated Souhegan in girls basketball, not once, but twice. On top of that, Milford also beat Hollis Brookline twice, the first the Spartans went undefeated against their two closest rivals.
n At 17-8 overall, Milford finished with a winning record for the first time since 1992 – the season before the split – which also happened to be the last time it had hosted a playoff game, before this season.
n The Spartans won a playoff game for the first time since 1991, and did so twice.
n Monday was the first time since 1983 that Milford played in a semifinal game.
n Individually, Pitsas joined a very select group in New Hampshire high school girls basketball history when she scored her 1,000 point in December, giving her that mark in points and rebounds.
“We’re record breakers,” Milford junior Jessica Ryan said.
“It says a lot about our dedication to the program,” Pitsas said. “Everyone is taking off the time to be in AAU and summer league and fall league. I think everyone wants to get better.”
In 2006, Milford made the playoffs for the first time since the split, and did so with a group of athletic girls who played other sports. While some members of this year’s team participate in other athletics, the difference is basketball is the top sport for many of them.
“We’ve all been playing together since sixth grade and I think that was an important factor,” junior Taylor Steinbrecher said. “We all loved coming to practice, we all loved spending time with each other, and it was that team work and the fact that we trusted each other so much that it worked out well.”
Going into the season, Milford coach Steve Signor had an idea of what the Spartans could do, that if things went right, they could make it into the top eight, maybe even the top four, and get to host a playoff game. But not all of the players thought the same thing from the start.
“We were going to play our hardest and do what we always do, but I don’t think we knew how far we were going to make it,” junior Brianna Hoffman said.
“I think right after the Christmas break, we went through four really tough games,” Pitsas said. “We set a goal to be 2-2 at the end of it and we won two out of the four. It was Lebanon, Goffstown, Hollis and Portsmouth. We just beat two top teams, we can actually do this.”
The Spartans lose just two players to graduation – Pitsas and reserve Brittney White. While the returning players will have big shoes to fill, they’ll be back with something no Milford team has had in a long time – big-game experience.
“I have four starters coming back, and that’s huge, especially from a game like this,” Signor said. “I’ve got my first one of the bench as well, plus the other girls who stepped up. We’re eight strong and I’m excited about next year.”
Of those eight players, seven of them play AAU together for the Granite State Rockettes.
“We’ll grow with each other, we won’t grow individually,” sophomore Adelle Pitsas said. “As a team, we’ll get better.”
And somewhere down the road, this group of Spartans will be able to stories about how they accomplished what no one to wear a Milford uniform had done in more than a generation.
“The feeling walking on the court last night was overwhelming,” Hoffman said. “We were all just so proud even to be there. As for what happened in the game, just being there was enough for all of us. Obviously, we didn’t want to lose, but we were hoping. I don’t think we’ll fully understand what it means to ourselves and to this town until a little bit later. We’ll look back on it and say ‘that was us.’”