Milton's Sam Noel puts up a shot against Enosburg. (Photo by Ben Kaufmann)

Milton’s Sam Noel puts up a shot against Enosburg. (Photo by Ben Kaufmann)

with additional reporting by DILLON HUPP

Milton scored the first seven points last Thursday night at Enosburg, but the Hornets fought back with a balanced offense for a 77-54 victory.

Capitalizing on aggressive full-court defense, Enosburg combined fast-break layups and strong shooting from beyond the arc to rally for a 19-13 lead after one quarter and was up 44-26 at halftime.

“We fell back into bad habits. We have to get better at beating the press,” Milton coach Jim O’Grady said.

Hurting the Yellowjackets’ cause was their failure to convert several easy looks point blank at the basket, while the Hornets seemingly couldn’t miss.

“If you hit those easy layups, the press goes away,” O’Grady said. “We didn’t hit those tonight.”

Milton played much better in the fourth quarter, outscoring Enosburg 20-14 in the period. The offense in the first three quarters revolved around O’Grady’s ability to power into the lane and create looks for himself, but even the good shots didn’t seem to be falling for the Yellowjackets. However, in the fourth, Milton attacked the Enosburg press with more success and several times pushed the ball up the court to center Patrick Mullins, who twice found open teammates for easy layups.

Eric Menard led the Yellowjackets with 14 points, while Derryk O’Grady closed in on the 1,000-point mark for career scoring with 13 points. The senior forward went into Wednesday’s contest against Vergennes only 89 points away from the milestone.

The Yellowjackets have had two 1,000-point scorers in boys basketball and three in girls. Brent Kendall (Class of 1992) is the school’s career scoring leader with 1,950 points, and Jason Oliver (2004) scored 1,027. Liz Lefebvre (1999) leads the girls chart with 1,343, while Kristen Raymond (1991) and Karen Marshall (1985) also surpassed 1,000 points.

Vergennes has started the season with 11 straight wins and sits atop the Division II standings along with Lake Region (9-0).

“They’re the best team in D-II, and they press like hell, so we really need to work on breaking the press,” O’Grady said. “We’re a young team, we’ll get there.”