May 26, 2018

Milford Mill overpowers Thomas Johnson late, advances to 3A state title game

Milford Mill senior forward Eric Turner scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Millers' 68-59 win over Thomas Johnson in the 2018 3A semifinals. Reggie Hildred/MSA.

COLLEGE PARK — Eric Turner got the ball in the high post and backed his defender down, plowing his built 6-foot-5 frame into the chest of Thomas Johnson’s Braxton Foreman, who looked helpless as he succumbed toward the hoop. Turner then swiveled to a face-up position and knocked down a smooth one-legged jumper, which was the start of 10 quick points for the senior to open the second half that helped mount a 16-point lead. 

The Patriots made it interesting down the stretch, bringing it to within four points three times during the final two minutes, but Milford Mill answered Thomas Johnson’s every punch for a 68-59 victory in the MPSSAA Class 3A semifinals. The Millers will now play No. 1 Poly on Saturday at 3 p.m. for the 3A state title.

“Thomas Johnson was a tough team out of Frederick. We had to get our guys together. We haven’t played since last Saturday. I knew once we got it together and rebound a little bit more … make a few more foul shots, we’ll take control of the game,” Smith said. “We got senior leadership from Ahmed Milton, Eric Turner, and Ugo Obasi. That always helps. … We’re excited to be back [in the state title game].”

Turner ended up with 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting for Millers, while pulling down seven rebounds. Obasi, who battled foul trouble for most of the contest, also netted 20, but on 8-for-14 shooting. He also grabbed seven rebounds and hit three of Milford Mill’s seven 3-pointers. Milton didn’t quite stuff the stat sheet (five points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals), but the senior dictated the pace of the game and played a large hand in holding Thomas Johnson to zero fast-break points.

Milford Mill (22-2) shot 42.9 percent for the game (24-for-56), including a 64 percent mark in the second half (14-for-25). Thomas Johnson (23-4), meanwhile, shot 40.4 percent overall (5-for-12), but turned it over 17 times, yielding to 18 Milford Mill points off miscues.

[RELATED: Milford Mill hoping right blend of personnel leads to glory]

Turner also held Foreman (17 points on eight shots) scoreless the final 12 minutes of the game. 

“I watched film over and over and over before this game,” Smith said. “We just pushed him to his left. … I know he’s a catch-and-shoot guy. He played AAU with a couple of these guys. I knew what he wanted to do.”

Foreman’s final bucket came with roughly four minutes left in the third quarter, a deep 3 to cut Milford Mill’s lead to 40-34. Shortly after, Turner chugged down the floor for a fastbreak layup and then hit a critical 3-pointer in the corner near his team’s bench to put Milford Mill up, 48-34.

Surprisingly enough, Milford Mill started the game slow, missing its first five shot attempts and turning the ball over twice before its first bucket at the 4:52 mark — an Obasi 3-pointer on the left wing. The Millers ended the first quarter on a 15-5 run to take a 15-11 into the second quarter. Behind a pull-up 3 by Foreman and four points from JR Powe (12 points, nine rebounds), TJ reeled off a 15-4 run to go ahead, 26-22, with roughly 3:30 left in the second quarter. Milford Mill took a 30-27 lead into the break, before it started the put-away stretch to open the second half.

The Millers will now vie for the program’s seventh state title and their first since 2013.

Richard Rivas added 15 points for the Patriots, which, like Milford Mill, missed 11 free throws at the line.

“Free throws, that was the killer,” Thomas Johnson coach John Manley said. “If we hit our free throws, it’s a whole different ball-game.”

About Kyle McFadden 416 Articles
Kyle McFadden is a graduate from Linganore High School's Class of 2014, a sports junkie and general news-hound. He got his start as a sports writer in January 2014 for Linganore's student-run newspaper The Lance, where he wrote 13 articles. McFadden then launched his own blog in October 2014 called The Beltway Dispatch covering collegiate, local high school and professional sports. Formally known as The Beltway Dispatch, McFadden and Evan Engelhard merged respective platforms in June 2015 to make what is now Maryland Sports Access. With baseball, basketball and golf experience, McFadden brings ample knowledge to the helm of MSA. McFadden covers a wide variety of sports in football, baseball, basketball, golf, hockey, lacrosse, soccer and specializes in the collegiate and high school levels. McFadden volunteers his time at Damascus Road Community Church -- serving as a mentor to the youth, basketball coach at the varsity and junior varsity levels, and leads a small group of high school sophomores every Wednesday night. Although he's only been around journalism since January 2014, he's a high school sports reporter for The Baltimore Sun and freelancer for The Frederick News-Post. McFadden's work has also appeared in DMV newspapers The Aegis, The Capital Gazette, The Daily Times (Delmarva Now), The Hometown Observer, Howard County Times, Germantown Pulse and The Towson Times. He's also won two Mike Powell Excellence in Journalism awards and has appeared on The Best of SNO, which showcases top student work of high school and college journalists. McFadden currently studies at Frederick Community College and plans to transfer to the University of Maryland in the fall of 2018 to work on a bachelor's degree in journalism with aspirations to be a national college basketball writer.
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