Boys Varsity Basketball
Game Summaries & Headlines.
- Game Date
- Jan 11, 2019
MILFORD – Throughout the course of its red-hot start to the season, the one constant for Milford has been its defense’s ability to hold down opposing teams and the Mavericks’ defense was on full display once again on Friday night against Walled Lake Central.
Behind its stingy defense and strong shooting, Milford jumped out to a 28-9 halftime lead, after allowing just two points in the second quarter, as the Mavericks cruised to a 51-35 win.
Milford head coach David Gilbert said that he expects his team to start each game strong behind its defense and noted that the goal for his team is to hold opposing teams to around 40 points, which the Mavericks were able to do against Central on Friday.
“That’s what we challenge them to do, come out and set a tone for the game, mainly defensively, that’s kind of what we’re hanging our hat on this year, holding teams to around 40 points (per game), so nine is a nice number,” he said. “We got sloppy in the third, sometimes it’s hard to play with that big of a lead, but we find a way to win and move onto the next one.”
After jumping out to a 17-7 lead after one quarter, Milford (9-1) continued to extend its lead in the second quarter as a pair of 3-pointers from Nicholas Krol helped give the Mavericks a 28-9 lead heading into halftime after limiting Central to just one field goal in the frame.
After Central used a quick 6-2 run to close out the third quarter to cut the deficit down to 39-24, the Vikings then managed to trim the Milford lead down to as low as 12, following a Matt Ellsberry 3-pointer and a pair of Lavell Narcisse free throws, to make it 41-29.
“I thought we had a little more intensity, a little more sense of urgency in the second half,” Central head coach Chuck Spolsky said. “They (Milford) made a lot of shots in the first half, a lot of great shots and we did not match that. We fell behind, but I’m proud of my players for how they fought and how they responded, we didn’t quit. We’re going to move on and keep getting better, we’re young, a little bit inexperienced and the kids are buying in, they’re playing hard. I can’t fault them for their effort, they’re a great group to coach. Sometimes we just need to make some shots early to stay in the game and then I think it’s a different basketball game.”
But the 12-point deficit would be as close as Milford would allow the Vikings to get as the Mavericks began to pull away just past the midway point of the fourth quarter with a Jonathan Porter basket that pushed the lead back to 14. A dunk by Gunnar Gustafson in the closing minutes put an exclamation point on the Milford win, extending the lead to 48-32.
Gustafson, who led the way for Milford with 15 points, said he and his teammates were confident from the start of the game and noted that the team’s impressive first half was more than enough to help lead the way to the win.
“We’ve just found a way to win and that was one of our better halves this season,” he said. “We’ve been very good defensively this season and our whole goal is to keep every team in single digits every quarter, so we did that in the first half and it showed on offense too, we hit some shots and then we were rolling.”
Through 10 games of the season, Milford has proven to be one of the top teams in the Lakes Valley Conference, but Gilbert admitted that his team has tough stretch of games coming up that can definitely serve as a barometer for his team moving forward, as the Mavericks eye a run in the state tournament a couple of months from now.
“From a win/loss standpoint, I don’t know that I could be much happier,” Gilbert said. “But I also know that we go through a little bit of a gauntlet here. We go to 8-2 Waterford Mott, we go to Lakeland who has one loss and we have undefeated Walled Lake Northern coming up in three of our next four games. That’s going to be my postgame speech, we’ve done what we needed to do in the first half of the season and now we have to see what we’re made of and there’s a lot of things we can get better at and that’s exciting. If we do that, we can be a pretty special team come March.”