Milford defense stifles Windham

MILFORD – The magic number is always 10.

That’s the maximum number of points the Milford High School girls basketball team wants to allow in any given quarter of any game, but Tuesday night against Windham, the Spartans allowed 14 in the first eight minutes.

Milford more than made up for it in the second quarter, holding the Jaguars to just five, and the Spartans won their fifth in a row, beating Windham 51-36.

The win moves Milford to 9-1 in Division II and helps it keep pace with Souhegan and Portsmouth, which the Spartans will likely face on Thursday.

“The first quarter was a little rough,” Milford coach Steve Signor said. “We kind of struggled a little, getting some fouls on us, and they were hitting their free throws. Once we hit that second quarter, we locked it down on defense and played better.”

Jennifer Dupuis led the Spartans with 19 points, 14 of which came in the second half, while Rebecca Cleary added 13 points and Brianna Hoffman had eight markers.

Although Windham’s Clairee Putnam had a game-high 22 points, no one else had more than five for the Jaguars (6-5).

“We tried to contain Clairee as much as we could,” Signor said. “I told them I didn’t care if she got 20 points, but let’s keep her around 20. The biggest goal was to shut down the rest of the players on their team and we did.”

The Spartans were able to limit Windham’s inside threats as well, holding forward Lexi Sawyer to just four points.

“That’s what we work on the hardest, talking and working together, especially with the big girls,” Dupuis said. “We always try to double down on them constantly to not let them do anything down there and that’s what stopped (Sawyer), I think.”

Milford trailed 14-13 after one quarter, but went on a 12-2 run to go up by nine late in the second. During that stretch, the Jaguars turned the ball over five times and were whistled for five fouls.

The lead was eight points, 27-19, at halftime and the Spartans opened the second half with a 9-2 run to go up 36-21 with 4:42 left in the third quarter.

Windham responded with a 10-3 run, with Putnam scoring six of those points, to cut the Milford lead to 39-31 late in the third, but once again, the Spartans’ defense clamped down in the fourth, holding the Jaguars to just four points.

At 9-1, Milford is one of three teams in Division II with just one loss, and the Spartans were scheduled to face one of those other teams in Portsmouth on Wednesday. But with the impending snowstorm, and school at Milford already postponed Tuesday night, Signor believed the game would likely be rescheduled for Thursday. Tip off would be at 6:30 p.m.