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Not once, not twice, but thrice: Big Reds are Huron League champs again

Photo by Joel Dotson
Milan’s Latin Davis (32) contends for a layup against SMCC’s Stephan Umfress (11) in the first quarter of the Big Reds’ 56-37 victory over the Falcons. Davis led the Big Reds with 18 points.

By Joel Dotson

Before the Milan Big Reds’ Tuesday night showdown with SMCC, there was more than a matter of bragging rights on the line. A conference title was hanging in the balance. The butterflies and nerves of the Milan players, coaches and fans before the game turned to hugs, cheers and smiles afterward, as the Big Reds took down the Falcons 56-37.

After being tied at nine with 1:40 to go in the opening quarter, the Big Reds went on a 7-0 run to end the frame with a 16-9 lead. A key play occurred with 4.6 seconds left, as Donovan Verges was fouled attempting a three-pointer. Verges made all three free throws. Nick Perkins was the leading man in the stanza, scoring nine points.  Perkins also recorded the first four points of the second period, scoring 13 of Milan’s first 20 points in the game.

Milan was aided by another run in the second quarter. After SMCC’s Brad Sherman hit a jumper with 3:45 remaining to make it 22-15, the Big Reds went on a half-ending 11-2 run. Four different Big Reds scored during the run, including key baskets from reserves Thomas Lindeman and Warren Calloway. Milan took a 33-17 lead into the half.

Just as the first quarter was Perkins’ time to shine, Latin Davis was the man of the third period. Davis scored 10 of the team’s 19 points in the frame, and helped the Big Reds close the third quarter with a lead of 51-27.

The lead that Milan established was enough to hold on for the victory.

The Big Reds were led in scoring by Davis and Perkins, who scored 18 and 17 points respectively. Sherman led the Falcons with 13, and Bryce Windham added 11.

With the win, Milan added to several accomplishments. The Big Reds won their 15th game of the season, extended their win streak to 10, their conference win streak reached 40 games, and they clinched their third straight Huron League championship.

“This was a great win against a well-coached (SMCC) team, and I thought we made a great statement defensively,” said Milan coach Josh Tropea following the victory. “I was really proud of our guys.

“We did a great job of pressuring the basketball. Nothing was easy for (SMCC). Our ball pressure was great. (SMCC) was never able to settle in to what they really wanted to do.”

The focus for the team now turns to the district playoffs, despite regular season games against Monroe Jefferson and Belleville still to play. “(The coaches) will start talking about it tonight,” Tropea said. “Belleville is a great test for districts, but our focus is on the district (playoffs). We’ll have to deal with St. Mary’s again in districts, so we’ll start talking about that (very soon).”

The Big Reds play their final home game and Huron League matchup of the regular season against Monroe Jefferson on Friday, Feb. 21. The game is set to tip off at 7 p.m.


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