By Greg Klein THE COOPERSTOWN CRIER
---- — Six days after Milford’s epic win in the Tri-Valley championships, the Wildcat boys’ basketball season has ended in upset with a 69-66 home loss to No. 6 seed South Kortright in the quarterfinals of the Section Four Class D playoffs.
The Wildcats had an eight-point lead, 62-54, after a fast break dunk by Peyton Griffiths with 3:10 left in the game, but Griffiths was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim.
Since it was his second technical – in the first quarter, he was given a technical for protesting a referee’s foul call on him – Griffith’s received an automatic ejection.
“It was a judgment call by the referee that he hung on the rim after the dunk, which you cannot do,” Milford coach Frank Spurchise said.
“It is sectional time and you always need a little luck to move on,” he continued. “I guess we used all of ours up in the championship game, (which was) a very gratifying win and said much about the character of my team.”
SK took advantage of Griffiths’ ejection, outscoring the Wildcats 15-4 over the final minutes, including nine-straight points. The Rams took the lead with 2:08 left, 63-62, on a three-point shot by Ty Magnan that rattled around the rim and fell in.
With 1:56 left, Eli Rutledge gave Milford the lead, driving the lane and banking in a shot to make it 64-63. But on the Wildcats’ next possession, Rutledge missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw. Griff Metzko got the rebound leading to a basket by Tyler Lamport with 1:12 to play which put SK up 65-54.
Milford took the lead one final time as Paul VanWarner stole a pass from Magnan to Lamport and drove in for a layup with 41 seconds left.
With 22 seconds left, Dan Nelson put the Rams up for good on a pass from Lamport.
Will Ward missed an off-balance three-point shot and Lamport got the rebound and drew a foul. He converted two free throws with six-seconds left for the final margin.
“I give SK a lot of credit,” Spurchise said. “They are a very good team that is well coached. There is no shame in losing to them.”
The Rams led most of the first half, including a 23-12 lead at the start of the second-quarter, but Milford got back into the game on a 13-0 run capped by a three-point shot by Jacob Tabor that made it 25-23 with 3:36 left in the half.
Metzko answered with a three-point shot at 2:57. Ward answered his basket with a three-point shot of his own at 2:38, but Magnan scored another three-point basket to put SK up 29-28 with 2:15 left in the half.
Max Lang put Milford up 30-29 with 2:01 left on a jumper in the lane, but SK closed the half on a putback by Metzko and a free throw by Lamport for a 32-30 lead.
Milford started the third quarter with a three-point basket by Ward 14 seconds into the quarter.
There were two ties and two lead changes in the third quarter before the Wildcats ended it on a 6-0 run for a 48-43 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Milford kept a six- or seven-point lead for most of the period before Griffith’s dunk gave it its biggest lead of the game, and began the Rams’ comeback.
Lamport scored 23 points to lead all scorers. Metzko scored 20 and Magnan scored 11 for SK (15-4), which plays No. 2 Davenport today at Oneonta State in the semifinals.
For the second-straight year, Milford has lost on its home court to a lower-ranked team. In 2013, it lost in the same round to visiting Hunter-Tannersville, 37-30.
Griffiths led Milford (18-2) with 20 points despite missing most of the second quarter with foul trouble. Lang scored 12, Ward scored 11 and Rutledge scored 10 for the Wildcats.
Rutledge is the only senior in the starting lineup, and Stephen Banks is the only other Wildcat senior, making Milford the favorite in the Tri-Valley league again next season.
“I am extremely proud of my team because they played with a lot of heart down the stretch,” Spurchise said.
SK 69, Milford 66
SECTION FOUR CLASS D
6-SOUTH KORTRIGHT (15-4): Tyler Faulk 2 1-2 5, Tyler Lamport 7 8-14 23, Ty Magnan 4 0-0 11, Griff Metzko 7 3-7 20, Dan Nelson 2 4-4 8, Tyler Palmatier 1 0-0 2, Andrew Post 0 0-0 0, Brett Post 0 0-0 0, Ed Newman 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 23 16-27 69.
3-MILFORD (18-2): Blake Elliott 1 0-0 2, Peyton Griffiths 8 3-3 20, Stephen Banks 0 0-0 0, William Ward 4 0-0 11, Paul VanWarner 1 0-0 2, Brian Atwell 0 0-0 0, Max Lang 5 1-5 12, Jacob Tabor 3 3-3 9, Eli Rutledge 5 0-3 10. TOTALS: 27 7-14 66.
SK 20 12 11 26 - 69
Milford 12 18 18 18 - 66
Three-point field goals: S 7 (Magnan 3, Metzko 3, Lamport); M 5 (Ward 3, Griffiths, Lang).