By ROBERT IANNACO
The Milton Yellowjackets jumped on the Thunderbirds early last Friday night, racing to a huge 17-0 lead after the first quarter on the way to a 36-24 win.
Five Milton players scored during the run as Danielle Phelps and Selena Patterson controlled the boards, allowing the Yellowjackets to break out and score some easy baskets.
Kaitlyn Brouard opened the game with a long 3-pointer in the first 15 seconds, and from there Milton took off. Patterson had six points, Brouard five and Phelps four in the quarter.
The Thunderbirds were dazed, but not knocked out.
Credit goes to their head coach Jim Daly and his assistant, David Beyor, as they kept the girls up and fighting and the players responded, outscoring Milton 24-19, the rest of the game.
MVU’s Adrianna Lagrow opened the second quarter by hitting both her free throws to get the T-Birds on the board. After a Lagrow steal, she fed a perfect bounce pass to a hard-cutting Taylor Devaney for the layin, putting the score at 17-4 with 4:10 left in the half.
Patterson hit one of two free throws for Milton a minute later before both teams got a bit sloppy with the ball, which limited each team’s scoring chances.
With 1:28 left, MVU’s Autumn Beyor hit a mid-range jumper to pull the T-Birds within 12 points, 18-6. Milton’s Paige Johnson closed out the half with a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 45 seconds remaining, sending the Yellowjackets into the locker room up, 21-6.
As the second half began, you could see an air of confidence in the MVU players.
“After the second quarter the girls felt like they could play with Milton, and it showed,” Daly said. “They never gave up, and they hustled the entire second half.”
Milton’s Phelps opened the scoring hitting two free throws before MVU’s Ashley Benson and Beyor responded with back-to-back buckets.
Phelps, who gave the T-Birds fits with her tough play inside, hit a short turnaround jumper to extend the lead to 24-10 with 6:55 left in the third. Lagrow responded with a nice floater in the lane, but Phelps nailed three of four free throws in a 20-second span to push the Yellowjacket lead to 27-12 with 4:01 on the clock.
Good defensive play by both teams shut down the scoring for the next 3:30, before Lagrow hit a jumper to end the quarter with Milton in front 27-14.
Phelps picked up where she left off, crashing the offensive glass hard and dishing to teammate Katie Rayner for an easy putback. MVU’s Jenne Hull stole the ball at midcourt and fed Lindsay Daly in the low post for a nice bank shot as MVU tried to hang in the contest. Milton added three free throws before MVU went on a 7-0 run, which could have been more if players shot better from the charity stripe in the run, when they went five for 11 to cut the lead to nine, 32-23, with 55 seconds left.
Milton’s Johnson ended the run by hitting one of two free throws with 35 seconds left. Brouard also hit one of two 15 seconds later, before Benson nailed one of two for MVU with six ticks left to knock the lead down to 10 points. Brouard was fouled with two seconds showing on the clock and calmly sank both attempts.
Phelps led all scorers with 10 points and numerous rebounds for Milton. Patterson added nine points while Brouard chipped in with eight. Johnson scored four, Kaitlin Reilly and Rayner added two each and Dallas Brodhead had one for the Jackets.
Adrianna Lagrow led MVU with nine points. Benson added five, Beyor four, Daly two and Sadie Reynolds one for the T-Birds.
Jim Daly was pleased with his team’s effort.
“We prepared and knew what was going to happen but we just didn’t take advantage of what they gave us. Our press worked well and caused some turnovers, and our girls never gave up.
“But it’s hard to dig yourself out of a 17-0 hole. It wasn’t for lack of effort,” he said.