Sabers, Spartans renew hoop rivalry

MILFORD – Whether it’s opening night or the final game of the year, quality basketball ensues every time Milford and Souhegan renew their local rivalry, and Friday night’s doubleheader was no exception.

The two schools split a male/female doubleheader in Milford High School’s first games of the season, providing two comparable paths to those outcomes.

In the girls’ matchup, Souhegan led throughout the contest, earning a 52-36 victory.

The Sabers were aided by 10 missed free throws by Milford in the first half alone, with the visitors heading into halftime with a narrow 19-17 advantage.

However, Milford couldn’t keep up with Mia Len’s five three-pointers in the second half, spearheading an attack that stood in stark contrast to Souhegan’s pensiveness earlier in the contest.

Souhegan head coach Mike Heaney didn’t have a halftime speech for his girls, instead letting them reflect upon their performance.

“I thought we played really tentative and without a lot of heart passion and then something lit a fuse under them at halftime,” he said.

“I thought we came out in the second half with more intensity and focus, just more composure. We had seniors who’ve been around and didn’t act like it in the first half, but in the

second half, they did.”

Len ended the night with 25 points, five rebounds and a pair of steals, Molly Driscoll also contributed nine points and 18 rebounds for the Sabers.

Freshman Sarah Dobbs led the way for Milford with nine points and six rebounds.

The boys contest also was evenly matched in the first half, with Milford taking their first lead just 20 seconds before the half on a free throw from senior captain Jamie Pare.

The Spartans led 28-27 at halftime, and they would grow that lead to 12 by the end of the third quarter before ending with a 64-52 victory.

Unlike their female

counterparts, the Spartan boys excelled from the charity stripe, led by Pare’s eight free throws in the second quarter alone.

Milford head coach Dan Murray attributed Pare’s trips to the line as just part of Milford’s offensive game plan, which he believe improved as the contest progressed.

“It’s just attacking the basket,” said Murray. “We want to attack the basket and kick out for threes. We don’t have a lot of size, so we can’t pound it in, we have to attack on the dribble and make nice passes.”

Murray also praised the improvement of his defense as the game went on, with Milford allowing just eight points in the second quarter and just 10 points in the third.

While there’s still plenty of games left, Murray believes this year’s squad can live up to the championship pedigree of previous years if they can continue to grow and learn to cope with taller teams like Kearsarge and Hollis/Brookline.

Pare and Max Fortin led all scorers with 19 points, with Anderson Geffard leading Souhegan with 15 points on the night.

The girls’ teams will meet again in Souhegan on January 2, but not as part of a mixed-gender varsity doubleheader.

Souhegan has three mixed-gender doubleheaders this year, but members of the Sabers’ girls squad wore warm-up t-shirts with the words “equality” to protest the fact that the girls are forced to go before the boys on each of those occasions.

Heaney noted that in the past, some parents have had to miss portions of their daughters’ games due to this practice.

“It bothers my players and they want to know why this is happening,” he said. “They deserve a better answer than ‘this is the way it’s always been,” that’s a terrible answer.”