Milford Mill struggled throughout much of the first three quarters of Friday’s game at Randallstown, but everything changed when coach Mike Silverman made his team step up the defensive intensity.
The Millers began pressuring the ball more and reeled off 14 straight points in about four minutes to take command, and No. 3 Milford Mill rolled to an 81-71 victory over No. 7 Randallstown in the Baltimore County matchup. It was the Millers' 91st-straight win in a county game.
The start of the game was delayed nearly an hour as the junior varsity game before it went into overtime, and Milford Mill started slowly on offense. Despite seeing good scoring chances on a regular basis, the Millers couldn’t convert consistently.
Milford Mill (3-1, 2-0) held a 54-49 lead with just over two minutes left in the third period, unable to finish off Randallstown (3-1, 1-1). That’s when the Millers stepped up their half-court defensive pressure, often putting more on the ball, and also went to a three-quarter court press.
“We really stress that defense creates offense,” Silverman said. “We were able to slow them down a little. I was pleased with the intensity for us.”
Milford Mill forced four turnovers in the next four minutes and quickly increased the pace, using fast breaks and good looks to score 14 consecutive points.
Balance also helped the Millers in that stretch, and until Silverman emptied the bench with under two minutes left. Elijah Cooper came off the bench to score 15 points, and Lolami Charles scored six.
Reggie White Jr. also made a number of good plays at both ends. He finished with eight points and was constantly in the middle of the action.
“We were trying to keep up the intensity,” White said. “Our defense helped us score more points.”
Cooper began the run with a layup, and Allen Costley (12 points) then added a free throw. Anthony Brown (14 points) hit a floater in the lane after a turnover and Karahn Alston added a free throw after another turnover.
Later, Cooper finished the run with a follow-up and a jam off a nice feed from White to give the Millers a 68-49 lead. Milford Mill eventually scored 27 of 32 points before Silverman pulled his starting lineup.
That’s when Randallstown made the final score closer by posting the game’s final 12 points. Jerell Cooke led the Rams with a game-high 28 points. Justin Jenifer topped Milford Mill with 17 points, 13 of which came in the first half.
Milford Mill threw a number of different defensive looks at Randallstown throughout the game, but the Rams kept adjusting until they ran into too much trouble during the Millers' dominant stretch.
Randallstown played hard throughout. The Rams kept creating scoring chances and frustrating Milford Mill at both ends until the Millers pulled away.
“We had to fight even though we had two of our starters out,” said Randallstown guard Jeremy Robinson, who finished with 14 points. “They just turned up the intensity [at the right] time.”
Milford Mill 81, Randallstown 71
MM - White 8, Brown 14, Jenifer 17, Alston 5, Cooper 15, Isaac 2, Charles 6, Costley 12. Totals: 28 22-35 81.
R - Robinson 14, Cooke 28, Banks 2, Ennals 5, Atelefack 4, Abrams 7, Granger 12. Totals: 27 14-22 71. Half: M, 41-31Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun