Sunday, November 22, 2009

Milford Heading to UNH...But it Wasn't Easy

Milford and John Stark are the two highest scoring teams in Class I. Anyone who was at Milford High last evening had to be expecting a shootout. And that's what we got. Both teams had a bunch of sots go halfway down the basket and pop out. The final was Milford 66 John Stark 59, but this game could have easily seen both squads in the 70's.

The Difference in This Game Was
1) A 17-3 run that Milford began the game with. This was led by Mike O'Loughlin, who scored 16 of his game-high 31 in the first half. Also, Stark scored 49 points over the final 3 quarters but really started out the game cold from the field. They had turnovers and missed shots that Milford turned into fast break points on the other end.

2) A 23-12 run that Milford went on between the last 2 minutes of the third quarter and the first 6 minutes of the fourth. The key here was the speed and athleticism of Jamie Holder and O'Loughlin being able to drive, get to the rim and score at will. Stark hung tough during this stretch, with Ethan O'Neill and Tim Plunkett both making some big shots. But Holder and O'Loughlin were just too much for them to handle down the stretch. And Spartan point guard Mike Mitchell was getting them the basketball in positions where they could do damage.

Stark Battled Hard, Give Them Credit
Milford has been the #1 ranked team in Class I virtually all season long. Stark meanwhile was a middle of the pack team all season, usually ranked somewhere in the 8-11 range all year. Throw in the fact that Milford was at home and in front of a packed gym and they have more tournament experience and Dan Murray's team was clearly the favorite. Plus Stark went down 17-3 early. At that point it appeared as if Milford would cruise to a win. The Generals looked like a team that was flat out not as talented as Milford early on.

That is why you have to give John Stark a ton of credit for battling back. I don't think anyone gave them a chance to win this game. But with 2:14 left in the third quarter Stark had a 43-42 lead on Milford.

You have to give Coach Smith a lot of credit for remaining calm and keeping spirits high with his team. Also, Ethan O'Neill played the best I've seen him play over the game's final three quarters. He finished with 18 points and over 10 rebounds. The 6'5" senior showed the ability to face up from the top of the key and either take the ball to the rim and score thanks to a nice spin move or he would stick the three ball.

Greg LeBlond had 16 points for Stark. He was constantly pushing the ball and keeping pressure on the Milford defense. He had a couple bad turnovers and forced shots, but overall played a solid game. LeBlond had a big and-one play to pull the Generals to within 3 at 36-33.

Then Plunkett drilled a three from the top of the key to tie it up at 36 with 4:26 left in the third quarter.

Back to Milford
When Stark tied it up at 36, the gym was going bonkers. Stark took a lead, but only a one point lead and then from there Milford took over.

"I'm just glad we were able to keep our composure once they tied it up" said junior point guard Mike Mitchell, who was all smiles after the win.

Now the Spartans get ready for a rematch with Portsmouth. It's Milford/Portsmouth in the first semi-final game Tuesday night over at UNH. Excluding holiday tournaments, Portsmouth is the only team all year to beat Milford.

"I can't wait to play them!" yelled O'Loughlin after the game.

Great Atmosphere
It was standing room only in the tiny Milford High gym. The Milford student section was packed, loud and enthusiastic. Stark brought a lot of people with them, and packed their side of the bleachers. At one point when Stark was making their third quarter run, there was a timeout on the floor and the place was simply electric. Both sections of the bleachers were going nuts. I was thinking to myself, "This is what high school basketball is all about."

Unfortunately, this game was not held at UNH. It is a shame that folks last night were forced to choose which one of of the four Class I quarterfinal games to see. All four games were great battles and we should have been able to see all four, one night one location at UNH like it used to be. Not to mention the girls Class L and Class I championships were last night as well. The NHIAA needs to do a better job of scheduling the games so people can see more of them and not less.


  1. Heard it was a good game can't wait to hear your thoughts.

  2. I think that Holder and Olaughlin were amazing last night Holder seemed to pour it on at will in the second half and really give Olaughlin and mitchell a much needed boost and one thing that doesn't get mentioned a lot is when Milford buckles down on defense they are twice as scarey. Mitchell plays harder than anyone i've seen at that size he takes charges and makes the opposing point guards work their butts off.Olaughlin steps up and plays bigger or smaller players anytime they need it and does a phenomal job at it. Nelson has rightfully joined the top three to make it the top four. his rebounding,blocking shots and scoring has made this team amazing and last but not least Holder has the ability to lock down anyone at anytime he rebounds like a center infact out jumps all the centers i've seen all year and then when you watch him deeing up on shooting gaurds or point guard he is giving them fits with his length and quickness and pure atlectic ability just ask leblond. put it all together and they have what it takes to go all the way they just need to play the full game on both ends and under control the whole time and they can beat anyone.

  3. Guess the remaining teams in the tourney might as well pack it up and concede the title to Milford, HUH???

  4. First, as far as no one giving them a chance. I know Stark honestly thought, based on how they've played down the stretch, that they could play with anyone, and in a tight game against a higher seeded team, do the "impossible". It didn't happen, but I'm sure that it woke Milford up. It got pretty quiet in that gym late in the 3rd quarter. I heard a Milford parent say "this isn't suppose to be this way".

    Holder took control of the 2nd half more than O'Loughlin, no doubt in my mind. I think LeBlond and O'Neill were just plain worn out. That played a big part, I think in the later stages of the game. Milford starters were able to get some rest, partly due to early foul trouble with LeBlond getting inside and drawing fouls.

    Good point by Jeremy, NHIAA has to, I repeat has to allow these Quarter Final games to be played back at UNH. Neutral floor for the 8 teams left. Beside the fact you're having a game broadcast into a cafeteria on a TV for an overflow crowd at a tournament game. I counted the bleachers, only 7 rows in this gym. Not a knock on Milford, it's not their fault, but come on NHIAA wake up. Everyone deserved to see this game LIVE.

    Anyway GREAT game by two teams last night, I was glad to be there and see it LIVE.

  5. The reason you play hard all season is to get home court advantage why would anyone in their right mind change that? As for being worn out you don't think milfords starters that played more minutes then yours might have been a little tired too?

  6. Can't wait to see Milford vs. Portsmouth!


    The Bow / Pembroke game came down to the wire and Bedford had Portsmouth on the ropes most of their game. In the past I went to these
    (quarter final)games with my sons at UNH and always walked away getting more than my money's worth. I know it helped them get excited about High School basketball and the possibilty of playing at Lundholm. The taxpayers, parents, fans and coaches should have a say as to what happens, not empty suits in an office crunching numbers.

    As for the argument of the long ride for some teams (which I've heard mentioned by some), it didn't appear to hamper Monadnock a couple of years ago or Hanover one bit. These games are played on a Friday besides. Also, if that is the issue for some, then why not just play the Semi-Final at the higher seed ? That is scheduled for Tuesday night ! So sorry, not buying that one.

  8. Its about money!!!!!!!! UNH costs a ridiculous amount to rent out for a day or night. The NHIAA gets the gate from these home games,(yes they do) and they don't have to rent the facility. Is a win/win for the deep pockets in Concord. They don't have to show up and run it, they don't have to pay for it, and they still get all the proceeds. The only ones that suffer are the kids who lose, and never get a shot to play on the college floor. Thats the real shame here.

  9. How come I don't hear anything about Kyle Nelson? Combined with O'Laughlin, Holder, and Mitchell he adds to the Spartans game. I'm not certain of his stats Friday but I can tell you that he has a presence about him that would make his competitors nervous. He has had an impact on both ends of the court. He has a beautiful outside shot, a force on the offensive boards and is solid in the key.

  10. Milford knows how important he has been. He has outplayed many very good players this year. He has really been a presence on the floor and is as important as any player on out team.

  11. Kyle is a force on the court.. I think when he is in, everyone gets a little more excited. Scott is a fan favorite and always tries pumping up the crowd.. The players and students are so close with each other it seems like Milford fans are part of the team.

  12. I think the fans are great. I think a player that is trying to pump up the crowd is no where near where he needs to be mentally on the floor. I also was repulsed by the Milford kid waving his hands to the crowd as he was in line to shake the hands of a distraught team from Portsmouth. That kid is not what I would want on my club.

  13. That kid is not what I would want on my club.

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010 10:12:00 AM EDT

    And let me guess sour grapes make you look even better? Why shouldn't a kid get pumped up if its working maybe he should be a robot and play with no passion right?

  14. Pumped up if it is working? Makes no sense,game was over and crowd was not needed at that point. Doing that during the game to get the crowd into it is a strategy, doing that after the game is just a look at me and disrespectful to the team you are in line to shake hands with.
    Know when to shut it down. Know when to be respectful.

  15. I think the fans are great. I think a player that is trying to pump up the crowd is no where near where he needs to be mentally on the floor.

    This is what you posted and if someone needs to get some energy and get himself pumped up with the best fans in the state what's your beef? Again sour grapes will get you no where. And by the way were you so concerned about your students as they were leaving giving us the finger and swearing at us too? I bet not.