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Big Reds use strong second half to defeat Grosse Ile

Photo by Joel Dotson Lance Lewis (0) makes a three-pointer over Grosse Ile defender Justin Moores (24) in the fourth quarter of Milan's 78-42 win over the Red Devils on Friday night. Lewis had 14 points in the Big Reds' victory.
Photo by Joel Dotson
Lance Lewis (0) makes a three-pointer over Grosse Ile defender Justin Moores (24) in the fourth quarter of Milan’s 78-42 win over the Red Devils on Friday night. Lewis had 14 points in the Big Reds’ victory.

By Joel Dotson

The Milan Big Reds’ game against Grosse Ile on Friday night was a tale of both good and bad – three quarters of consistent scoring and domination, and one quarter that was a disappointment. The Big Reds were able to overcome their lackluster performance in the second quarter and defeated the Red Devils 78-42 for their eighth straight victory.

Milan began the game with a familiar formula, jumping to a 9-0 lead after two minutes of play. The Big Reds used the run to take a 24-11 lead after the opening quarter. The front-man of the opening frame was Donovan Verges, who scored nine of his 11 points in the game’s first minutes.

The second quarter was one of frustration. The Big Reds scored only nine points in the period, six of them by Nick Perkins. Milan took a 33-18 lead into the break, but head coach Josh Tropea had something to tell his team after being disappointed by their change in effort.

“The kids lost their intensity and focus in the second quarter,” Tropea said after the game. “We started (committing) reach fouls and had one of our worst quarters of the year.

At halftime, I challenged the kids and questioned how much they cared about the team (in the locker room). I told them that their effort (in the second quarter) was disrespectful to the fans and coaching staff, and that we needed to do better.”

Tropea’s words seemed to sink in and motivate the team. Going back to their traditional pressure defense to start the second half, the Big Reds were able to score by generating numerous turnovers. Latin Davis scored 18 of the team’s 30 points in the third period. Milan led 63-32 heading into the final quarter.

Just as the third quarter was led by Davis, the fourth was led by Lance Lewis. Lewis scored 10 of his 14 points in a span of four minutes.

Tropea was proud of the way his team responded with a strong second half. “We played three great quarters of basketball tonight,” he said. “That second quarter shows that we can be beat by anybody (if we play like that), but that’s high school basketball. (The players) are 16 and 17 years old.”

On the night, the Big Reds were led in scoring by Davis and Perkins, who scored 23 points apiece. Other double digit scorers for Milan were Lewis (with 14) and Verges (with 11). Grosse Ile was led by Tyler Moores, who scored 17 points.

The win tonight was significant for the team, and for Tropea. The win was Tropea’s 80th career victory at Milan, and he attributed his success to the expectations he laid out when he first started out coaching the program. “I made it clear that when I came here, I expected us to compete for league and district titles every year,” Tropea said. “I expected Milan to have special teams that would compete for and win league titles every year.

“I consider this a special team. We’re contending for the Huron League title. I expect for us to challenge to win a district, regional, and league title. We have a tough district (with SMCC and Dundee), and a tough regional, but we have a shot (at competing for a state title).  We’re a top ten team in class B, and we have a very real opportunity to accomplish some special things.”

Milan, now 13-3 on their season, plays their next game tomorrow afternoon at Carleton Airport in the makeup of a game previously postponed by the winter storm in early January. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m.


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