Local athletes sign letters of intent

MILFORD – When it comes to defense, the Milford High School boys basketball team is right there with just about any team in Division II.

Unfortunately for the Spartans, too often they don’t know what to do when the ball is in their hands.

Milford held Portsmouth to one of its lowest point totals of the season Monday night, including just 23 points in the first half, but the Spartans struggled on their own end in a 55-31 loss to the Clippers.

Ross Briggs led the Spartans with nine points, but no one else had more than five, as Milford (1-11 in Division II) lost its 10th in a row. Portsmouth got 12 points from Nick Mackey while Donovan Phanor had 11 and Zac Hansler added 10.

“Defensively, it was good,” Milford coach Dan Murray said. “But offensively, it was too fast. I think there was a streak in the second quarter where we had eight, nine, 10 turnovers in a row. Early, we settled down and we got good looks. Then we had that nervous energy and we went too fast.”

Portsmouth (10-2) had just two points through six minutes, as Milford led 6-2, but the Clippers were able to tie the game at 8 by the end of the quarter. The game was still tied at 10 early in the second when Portsmouth went on a 13-0 run to go up 23-10 with 2:14 left in the half.

After the early deficit, the Clippers closed out the opening half by outscoring Milford 21-6, as the Spartans committed 14 turnovers in the first 16 minutes.

“We came out sluggish, but what keeps us in games is our defense,” Portsmouth coach Jim Mulvey said. “Their zone was pretty good, but against a zone, you either make shots or you don’t.”

Once the Clippers started making shots, they took control of the game.

Milford opened the second half with baskets by Briggs and Drew Lesmerises, helping to cut Portsmouth’s lead to 24-17. But turnovers again plagued the Spartans and the Clippers went on a 23-4 run to take their largest lead, 47-21, with 4:30 left in the game.

“Third quarter, we didn’t score much at all,” Murray said. “That’s been our story all year, but their inexperienced hoop players. They get caught up in the moment.”

Milford gets right back at it Tuesday with a trip to ConVal (1-10), the only team the Spartans have defeated this season.