Milford did just that, limiting Stoughton to just four points in the opening quarter and built on that advantage over the next three quarters for a 51-37 win on the road.
“We definitely started out strong…on the road, that’s the best you can ask for,” Dolliver said. “Honestly, in any game, if you have a great start that’s what you want. There’s been times when we haven’t started strong and the confidence level goes down. The girls can lose sight that it’s a 32 minute game. It’s nice when you can start strong and get that early lead.”
Christine Pye got things going early for the Scarlet Hawks, netting six of her seven points in the opening quarter. Kate Irwin, who had a four point play in the first quarter, paced Milford with a career-high 27 points.
Scoring from Pye and Irwin paced Milford’s offense early on while its defense blanked Stoughton for over six minutes. The Black Knights were able to finally break through with a free throw from Val Whalen (11 points, 10 rebounds) but the Scarlet Hawks held a 12-4 lead after eight minutes.
Stoughton got within six points halfway through the second quarter after a pair of free throws from Jordan Motley (15 rebounds) but Milford came back with an answer. Over the next four minutes, the Scarlet Hawks hit a trio of trifectas – one each from Nicole Dahlgren (six points, seven rebounds), Irwin and Jess Tomaso – and scored 12 points total to take a 27-16 lead into halftime.
Milford kept its 10 point cushion throughout the third quarter, coming back with an answer anytime Stoughton scored. Stoughton freshman Aliyah Wright (12 points) drained a three late in the third to cut it to eight but Milford’s Emily Piergustavo converted an offensive rebound on the ensuing possession. Wright scored again to make it single digits but a traditional three point play from Irwin put the lead back to 11.
“We seemed to have an answer each time,” Dolliver said. “Stoughton’s a very physical team, I really like that team a lot. They play so strong, they rebound very well and they’re hard to play against. Luckily our offense, when Stoughton went on a run here or there, we just found a way to get a bucket.”
Irwin scored nine of her 27 points in the third quarter and added five more in the final frame to help the Scarlet Hawks ice the game.
“She’s done a really good job of increasing her intensity,” Dolliver said of Irwin. “She’s evolved as a point guard over the last two years. One big focus point was getting her to take better shots. She’s taking less shots this year but averaging twice as many points this year.
“She’s making good decisions for us. If she has a good shot, we want her to take it but if it’s not a great shot, she moves the ball. She’s been very coachable about it and I love watching her play.”
Milford girls basketball (5-1 overall, 3-1 Hockomock) is back in action next week when it travels to Canton on Tuesday. Stoughton (1-5, 0-4) will be back in action on the same day with a trip to Foxboro.