Milford’s run ends in semifinals
Thursday, March 7, 2013
MANCHESTER – The Milford High School girls basketball team played Monday’s Division II semifinal game the only way it knows how.
The No. 4 Spartans played tough on defense, got physical with top-seeded Lebanon and played until the final minute. It just wasn’t enough to hand the undefeated Raiders their first loss of the season.
Milford trailed by 11 points at halftime and watched Lebanon open the third quarter with a 10-2 run, but hung with the Raiders the rest of the way before falling 56-41 at Southern New Hampshire University. Lebanon will now face No. 2 Portsmouth in the championship game Friday at 7 p.m., also at SNHU.
Dina Pitsas had 12 points and Adelle Pitsas added 10 for the Spartans, who were playing in a semifinal game for the first time since 1983. Three times in the fourth quarter, Milford made it an 11-point game, but had to settle for giving Lebanon its closest game of the season.
“We gave them a run and the nice thing was, we stayed in it the whole game,” Milford coach Steve Signor said. “That was the big thing, competing every quarter. They came out early in the game and early in the third quarter and kind of took it to us.
“But we settled in. We’re going to play from the first minute to the last minute and we’re never going to quit.”
The Spartans (15-6) didn’t quit and outscored the Raiders in the fourth quarter, thanks to a flurry of 3-pointers. Milford also outrebounded Lebanon, 41-40, but turned the ball over 21 times.
“That’s a very hard-core team,” Lebanon coach Tim Kehoe said. “They play a similar style to us, and they don’t back down defensively. They’re the most physical team we’ve played all year.”
Lebanon (21-0) was able to withstand Milford’s toughness thanks to a stellar night from Moriah Morton. The senior had a game-high 15 points to go with nine rebounds and nine assists while Emily Kehoe and Samantha MacDonald each had 12 points for the Raiders.
After fighting through some early jitters, Milford was down six at the end of the first quarter before Lebanon opened the second with a 9-2 run. The Spartans got the deficit down to 11 at halftime, but the Raiders scored the first eight points of the third quarter and led 42-19 with 4:05 left in the frame.
“They just got a couple of quick baskets on us, and we were a little keyed up coming out of the halftime,” Signor said. “We settled back down and brought back within a game.”
The loss was just the second for Milford in its final 10 games of the season, and with just two players graduating – Dina Pitsas and Brittney White – Signor is confident that his team will come back strong next year.
“We were 10 strong and I have eight back,” he said. “They’ll work hard in the offseason. I have four starters coming back and the first one off the bench. I’m excited.”