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Milan captures big win at Springfield (Ohio)

Milan's Latin Davis drives for a layup as he is fouled by Springfield (Ohio)'s Demajeo Wiggins (40), while the Blue Devils' Manny Durden (24) looks on. The Big Reds defeated Springfield 63-56 on Saturday night.
Photo by Joel Dotson
Milan’s Latin Davis drives for a layup as he is fouled by Springfield (Ohio)’s Demajeo Wiggins (40), while the Blue Devils’ Manny Durden (24) looks on. The Big Reds defeated Springfield 63-56 on Saturday night.

By Joel Dotson

Before the season began, Milan head coach Josh Tropea knew that, in order for the team to succeed, some of the nine new faces on his roster were going to need to contribute despite their inexperience. On Saturday night at Springfield High School in Holland, Ohio, Tropea found what he was looking for, as his Big Reds defeated the Blue Devils 63-56.

Less than a minute into the third quarter, junior forward Nick Perkins went to the bench with his third personal foul, with Milan leading 34-30. Perkins’ teammates responded by outscoring Springfield 15-4 over the next five minutes, as the Big Reds took a 51-38 lead into the fourth.

“When Nick went out of the game, our kids really competed defensively and fought for every loose ball and rebound,” Tropea said after the game. “Austin Hoover, Lance Lewis, Jacob Novak, and Donovan Verges all played great defense against much taller opponents. During that stretch, our defense led to several baskets in transition. Latin (Davis) really led our offense and helped us extend the lead.”

The game’s intensity picked up in the fourth quarter, as the Blue Devils mounted a furious comeback. Led by a pressure defense and offensively by senior guard Manny Durden, Springfield forced several turnovers and cut the lead to 56-51 with 1:57 to go in the game. A Perkins basket with 1:45 to go slowed the Blue Devils’ momentum. Two free throws by Mason Durden cut Milan’s lead to 58-53 with 1:22 remaining. Following a Big Reds turnover, Springfield missed a jump shot with 46 seconds left and Donovan Verges sealed the victory with two free throws with 26 seconds to go, giving Milan a 60-53 lead. The Big Reds were able to close out the game and won 63-56.

The game is the last of a home-and-home series with the Blue Devils, who are coached by former Milan star Stan Joplin. Joplin’s Blue Devils gave the Big Reds their only regular season loss last year, when his jersey number 43 was retired at halftime of the game in Milan’s gym.

“This was a great win for our team. Stan does a great job coaching (Springfield) and it’s always good to win a game that has the intense feel of a playoff game,” Tropea said. “That’s part of the reason we wanted this game on our schedule. This win helped show how much our young kids have grown on the court.”

On the night, Milan was led by Verges, who scored 20 points. Also contributing for the Big Reds were Davis with 16, Perkins with 12, and Novak with 10. Springfield’s Manny Durden led all scorers with 27 points.

With the win, Milan improves to 3-2 on the season. The Big Reds face Riverview on the road in their next contest on Tuesday, Jan. 14.


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