Big Reds headed back to regional final after win over Grosse Ile


Milan's Nick Perkins (34) drives for a layup in the Big Reds' 62-48 victory over Grosse Ile on Monday night. Perkins scored 30 points and had 18 rebounds in the game.
Photo by Joel Dotson
Milan’s Nick Perkins (34) drives for a layup in the Big Reds’ 62-48 victory over Grosse Ile on Monday night. Perkins scored 30 points and had 18 rebounds in the game.


By Joel Dotson


Heading into the Milan Big Reds’ regional opener on Monday night, Milan coach Josh Tropea was mildly concerned with how his team would fare against conference rival Grosse Ile, given that this was the third matchup between the Huron League opponents this season. The concern was not necessary, as the Big Reds defeated the Red Devils 62-48.

With the win, Milan is in the Sweet 16 and is heading back to the regional final game nearly a year to the day after accomplishing the same feat.

The Big Reds’ run to the regional final would not have been possible if not for the stellar play of junior forward Nick Perkins. Perkins dominated the inside, scoring 30 points and grabbing 18 rebounds.

“Nick had an outstanding game tonight,” Tropea said. “He did everything he could to help us win. Nick is a big-time player, and there is no doubt that we’re a better team when the offense goes through him.”

The Big Reds started out slow in the first quarter, especially on the defensive end. Grosse Ile grabbed a 9-6 lead with 4:08 to go in the opening quarter, before Milan took a lead of their own at 15-11 with 1:16 remaining. The Red Devils scored three buckets in the last minute, including one with 0.3 to go to tie the game at 18.

Perkins went to work in the second frame, scoring 10 of the Big Reds’ 14 points. Trailing 23-20, Milan went on a 12-1 run over the last 5:24 of the period, with all of the points being scored by Perkins and Donovan Verges. The Big Reds claimed a 32-24 lead at the half.

The game took a turn in Milan’s favor in the third quarter, as the Big Reds scored the first 13 points of the period. Two free throws by Lance Lewis gave Milan their largest lead of the game, a 45-24 lead with 4:36 to go in the stanza. The Big Reds held Grosse Ile scoreless for the first 3:56 of the frame. Milan took a 47-30 lead into the final quarter.

Grosse Ile closed the gap of the game to 12 with 4:15 remaining in the game, thanks to a two-pointer by Thomas Daly. The Big Reds shut the door with 1:54 to go, when two Verges free throws put Milan up 60-45. The Big Reds went to a four-corner offense the last minute-and-a-half to close out the 62-48 victory.

Milan (21-3) will take on the Detroit Community Hurricanes in the regional final on Wednesday, March 12 at Flat Rock. The Hurricanes reached the championship game by defeating River Rouge 53-52 in the first game on Monday in the same gym. The Big Reds are aiming for their first regional championship since 1948, the same year that Milan won their only state title in school history.

While Tropea was happy with the victory, he expressed concern over the team’s recent play. “We still have not played four quarters of Milan basketball in the postseason,” he said. “We’ll need to play much better Wednesday in the regional final.”

“Detroit Community is much quicker than us on the perimeter. We’re going to need eight to nine guys to come out and play with a spark and play hungry, in order for us to win.”

Wednesday’s regional final is set to tip off at 7 p.m.



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