Big Reds benefit from Huron League schedule
By Joel Dotson
The Milan varsity boys’ basketball team played eight games in the month of January, going 6-2 in those games.
\The first calendar month of 2017 began with a loss to non-conference Tecumseh on Jan. 6; the 51-48 overtime loss was the first win of the season for the Indians, and dropped Milan’s record to 0-4.
The Huron League portion of the schedule kicked off against SMCC in the next contest on Jan. 10. Despite an 18-0 run at one point in the contest, which narrowed SMCC’s lead to eight points, the Big Reds lost 61-42.
\A 59-34 win over Monroe Jefferson on Jan. 13 kicked off a six-game win streak. Milan’s other victories were over Carleton Airport, New Boston Huron, Riverview, Flat Rock and Grosse Ile.
\A starting lineup change may have propelled the Big Reds to the winning streak. Beginning with the Jefferson game, Milan head coach Chris Pope inserted Tristen Hines and Kenari Moore into the lineup in place of Jarius Hamilton and Antonio Walker. “We’ve been playing better defense since we put (Tristen and Kenari) in,” Pope said after his team’s win over Flat Rock on Jan. 27. At the time, Milan had held opposing teams to 50 points or less in four of their last five games.
If the current win streak seems familiar, like a case of deja vu, it just about is. Last season, Milan began the year 0-5 before a seven-game win streak. To repeat the feat, the Big Reds would have to defeat SMCC in Monroe; that game kicks off February’s schedule on Friday, Feb. 3.
Following the game with the Falcons, Milan plays seven more games in February. Six of them are against conference opponents, and the month’s slate will end with a game against Ypsilanti Arbor Prep on Feb. 27.
The Big Reds enter the February schedule in second place in the Huron League conference; SMCC leads with a 7-0 league record, while Milan is 6-1. Other teams within reach are Grosse Ile and Riverview, who sit at 4-3 and 3-4 respectively.