Defense leads Milford to win over HB

HOLLIS – Defense wins games for the Milford High School girls basketball team, but that Spartans’ defense almost met its match Tuesday night.

The Spartans (16-1) took down a tenacious Hollis Brookline squad 43-31 in a Division II matchup that featured two strong defensive efforts until the third quarter.

Both teams put on a physical display under the hoop all night to grind out buckets in a game of cat and mouse, but it was Milford’s scrappy defense that created opportunities for its offense to put the game away.

“We’re not out there to try to outscore you,” said Milford coach Steve Signor “We’re going to play hold on defense and hopefully score enough points to win.”

Hollis Brookline’s greatest bid for the lead came in the third quarter when Bri Hackett swished a 3-pointer to pull within one ata 22-21 score. From there, the Spartans turned on the heat by converting Cavaliers’ turnovers and loose balls on the floor into swift drives to the basket for a 9-0 run to give themselves a 10-point cushion.

“It wasn’t so much that Milford was beating us as we were beating ourselves,” Hollis Brookline coach Bob Murphy said. “We played good defense on one end and no offense on the other end. We have a series of plays that we prepared for their man-to-man defense, but we didn’t execute.”

The Cavaliers scooted out to a 6-3 lead in the opening minutes of the meeting by finding the Milford paint, but the Spartans surged back with some success under the hoop of their own to nail four straight field goals and take an 11-6 advantage.

“Offensively, we struggled early in the game, especially against their zone, not realizing that their strength was inside the paint and that’s where we get a lot of baskets,” Signor said. “We pushed the ball. If you push the ball against that zone, you don’t allow five girls to set up and play defense.

“They had to play defense in transition and that’s what helped us get that momentum and get that lead.”

Kristen DuPont came off the bench for the Cavaliers to put up a free throw and a field goal to pull her team back within a pair in the second quarter, but the Spartans kept grinding away to escape once again.

“They were consistent on both ends of the floor and we weren’t,” Murphy said. “They were driving to the basket and we weren’t.”

The Cavaliers have had to rely on a small group of shooters to produce for them this year and the Spartans were able to recognize them and clamp down on them.

Hackett was limited to eight points on two 3s and two free throws. Kristin Johnson chipped in for eight points as well.

Hollis Brookline was able to spread the ball around the floor with seven of them putting points on the board.

On the Milford side, Jess Ryan piled up 12 points, Adelle Pitsas nailed down 10 and Rebecca Cleary put up seven.