Milford cruises past Plymouth

MILFORD – If there was any hangover from losing in the final regular season game of the year, the Milford High School girls basketball team didn’t show.

The top-seeded Spartans scored early and often, and prevented No. 16 Plymouth from doing the same, as they rolled to a 50-14 win in Tuesday’s Division II preliminary round game. Milford will host No. 8 Pembroke, a 43-33 winner of No. 9 Windham, in the quarterfinals on Friday.

Jessica Ryan led all scorers with 10 points for the Spartans (17-2), while Taylor Steinbrecher added seven and Adelle Pitsas, Rebecca Cleary, Brianna Hoffman and Jennifer Dupuis each chipped in with six.

Emelia Karntakosol scored all seven of her points for Plymouth (5-14) in the fourth quarter, six of which came on two 3-pointers. Before hitting those, the Bobcats went more than 15 minutes without scoring a point.

For Milford coach Steve Signor, it was nice to see his players bounce back from last Friday’s loss to St. Thomas, which snapped a 12-game winning streak.

“I think we got a little complacent down the stretch, winning a lot of games and looking at some other teams’ records,” Signor said. “I don’t think we were as focused, including myself, in practice. It gave us a wakeup call. It gave us a setback, but whenever you have a setback it sets you up for a comeback.

“We regrouped Saturday and practiced hard for all three days before this game. We focused on just this game. We had started talking about playoffs down the stretch and who we could see, and that’s when we lost what our strength was, which was taking it game by game.”

While Signor knew that Milford had wrapped up the No. 1 seed no matter the outcome of the game against St. Thomas, he didn’t tell the players until they were on the bus ride back from Dover.

It was a relief, but also a motivator.

“We were all kind of worried, to be honest,” Steinbrecher said. “It was a tough way to end the last game and think we were losing that spot, but it just gave us momentum because we wanted to work harder to keep that spot.

“The last few days, we’ve been working really hard in practice and it was great to come back and get a win.”

The Spartans didn’t wait long to get things started against the Bobcats. Milford won the opening tip, Ryan drained a 3-pointer from the wing, Hoffman followed with another 3 and a free throw by Ryan and putback by Dupuis made it 9-0 before Plymouth could get a shot off.

The lead was 16-4 at the end of the first, 28-6 at halftime and 42-6 at the end of the third quarter.

Milford managed to survive the win without any injuries and Signor was also able to get many of his regulars out of the game early.

And now the coach and his players will get ready for the Spartans of Pembroke, who Milford defeated in the preliminary round last year, but didn’t play this regular season.

“They’re a lot stronger because they’ve got a lot of the same girls back,” Signor said. “They picked up a girl who didn’t play last year who played the year before and she’s a strong player. They’re going to be tough to beat. They move the ball well, they hit outside shots well, and they’ve got a good inside presence.”

Friday’s game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in Milford. The winner advances to Monday’s semifinal at Southern New Hampshire University.