It’s not often a team can give up a 12-point lead and allow 43 points to an opposing player and still come away with a win.
The Bobwhites (8-9) needed a little bit of luck to get away with both February 15 and extend their winning streak to seven games after dropping nine of their first 10.
Milton senior Ryan Brown scored 43 points and pulled down five rebounds but BFA-St. Albans topped the Yellowjackets 73-68 in the Lake Division showdown.
BFA led 34-22 with about three minutes left in the second quarter before Milton (7-9) came storming back to make it a two-point contest at the half, and the Yellowjackets led by six in a back-and-forth fourth quarter.
But despite Brown’s heroics, which included four baskets plus the foul and a 16-for-19 performance from the free-throw line, Milton couldn’t overcome a handful of important late shots by BFA, coupled with turnovers at the other end in the final two minutes.
“He definitely carried us through the game. I wish we could’ve had a couple of those at the end go our way, but it just didn’t,” Milton assistant coach John LaFreniere said. “He definitely played his heart out tonight. He definitely is our catalyst, offensively.”
Tied early in the fourth quarter, Tre Sherwood’s 3-point play and a triple from Ian Jennings made it 58-52 Milton with 6:20 on the clock. A minute later, it was still a five-point game after another Brown three, his third of the game in a 15-point fourth quarter.
Another 3-point play by Brown had Milton ahead 68-64 with two minutes to go. But Brady Green, who led the Bobwhites with 24 points, drove to the hoop for two to make it a 2-point game, and Jens Ulrich-Verderber pulled down an offensive rebound and dished it to Will Harvey, who knocked it down from outside the perimeter to put the Bobwhites in front.
“We needed every single scenario that played out tonight,” BFA coach Matt Toof said. “We were up by 10 early; we blew that lead. Then we had to fight our way back to a lead. It was back and forth in the fourth quarter. We were down five in the fourth. We had to really focus on the defensive end, going back to the basics. We didn’t shoot the ball well from the foul line early. We didn’t defend well early, and that really cost us going into the second half.
“But we were able to do just enough to get the win on the defensive end,” Toof continued.
With one final possession to tie it, Milton had a shot at the rim off a timeout but fell short.
“This season, we’ve won some games we shouldn’t have won and we lost some games we should have won,” LaFreniere said. “A minute and a half, a 3-point lead, and we just couldn’t control the ball on the offensive side. They were getting ready to foul us. So we just turned the ball over too many times in the last minute, minute and a half, and that hurt us.”
The up-and-down final frame could scarcely overshadow Brown’s performance. He only scored five in the first quarter, but nine free throws in the first half alone helped keep Milton in the game.
Brown went off in the second half, scoring 10 in the third, including a pair of and-ones and a triple.
“He’s a great player. Tonight he was able to put the ball on the floor and get it to the basket almost at will,” Toof said of the Milton senior. “On one end I’m not pleased with the way we responded to that, but on the other side of that is you have to give that kid a ton of credit. He had a great game.”
Ben Hanson added a pair of triples, scoring eight with four rebounds, and Jennings finished with six points and three assists. Sherwood (2 rebounds, 2 steals) added five points, with two each by Will Scarpinato (4 rebounds), Devon Creamer and Tyler McRae.
Seth Herrity had three assists and two rebounds; Dustin Rock two rebounds; Ethan Howell two assists and a steal; Andrew Harvey a steal and assist; and Tyler Farrar and Jordan Deep an assist each.
The Bobwhites kept pace with Milton by using balanced scoring and quick passing underneath. Ulrich-Verderber’s offensive rebound and kickout to Harvey might have been the most important play of the game, and it was the combination of Ulrich-Verderber to James Konrad to Harvey for the finish that gave the Bobwhites their largest lead of the night in the second quarter, forcing a Milton timeout.
Ulrich-Verderber finished with 17 points, 12 in the second half, and Harvey scored 20.
“The kids played hard. That’s all we can ask. I’m happy with the effort,” LaFreniere said. “We’d still like to get a couple of these in the W column heading into the playoffs. We’re competing, and that’s what matters.”