Regional Champs: Milan takes down Detroit Community

 

Photo by Joel Dotson The Milan Big Reds (22-3) celebrate their regional title after defeating Detroit Community 55-40 on Wednesday night. This is Milan's first regional title since 1948.
Photo by Joel Dotson
The Milan Big Reds (22-3) celebrate their regional title after defeating Detroit Community 55-40 on Wednesday night. This is Milan’s first regional title since 1948.

By Joel Dotson

In Wednesday’s regional final at Flat Rock, the Milan Big Reds wanted to show the fans what they were capable of. Even though they had gotten to the regional final for the second consecutive year, their head coach knew that they hadn’t played to their potential in postseason play. When the final buzzer sounded, the Big Reds defeated the Detroit Community Hurricanes 55-40 and brought a regional title to Milan for the first time since 1948.

“I’m so proud of our kids and our staff,” Milan head coach Josh Tropea said after the game. “This is a great team win. Our staff prepared well, and the kids played their hearts out tonight.

“I was confident we’d win tonight because of our great practice yesterday. The kids came out and worked hard. They were hungry and anxious to show what they could do.”

The opening quarter of the game was a defensive battle between the two teams. Milan trailed twice during the quarter, before taking a 9-6 lead following consecutive baskets by Jacob Novak and Donovan Verges. The Hurricanes scored with one second remaining in the frame, cutting the Big Red lead to 9-8 as the quarter ended.

Tropea acknowledged that the first quarter was a feeling-out process. “We’d scouted (Community) well and had a good idea of what they would try to do,” he said. “I was happy with our offensive execution, but we couldn’t get the shots to fall.”

With 3:10 left in the second quarter, Novak hit a three-pointer that gave Milan an 18-10 lead. That bucket ignited a Big Red run that stretched a 15-10 lead to 23-14 at the half. The half ended with a scare, as Milan point guard Latin Davis went down with an ankle injury with 1.4 seconds remaining. “When Latin went down, I was sick to my stomach,” Tropea said. “I was glad when our trainer said (Davis) would be good to go for the second half (of the game).”

Milan was propelled by a strong third period. Davis put an exclamation point on his return in the game, hitting a three-pointer that opened the scoring in the quarter. After a Nick Perkins three extended Milan’s lead to 31-16 with 5 minutes to go in the frame, the Big Reds went on a 9-1 run that put them up 40-17 with 2:27 to go. Overall, Milan outscored Community 19-5 in the quarter, stretching their lead to 42-19.

The Big Reds’ biggest lead of the game occurred with 6:40 to go, when Lance Lewis hit the quarter’s first basket to give Milan a 25-point advantage. Community tried their best to get back into the game, but despite seven Hurricane 3-pointers over the game’s final minutes, they could not get close enough to give the Big Reds a scare.

Following the game’s conclusion, Tropea was ecstatic to have a regional title trophy in his hands, and even more proud of his players. “We’ve had a great run, but we’re still one win short of reaching our goal,” he said. “At the beginning of the season, we set goals to win the league, win the regional and get to the Breslin Center. With one more win, we’ll play in East Lansing.”

The Big Reds do not know their next opponent. The game between Wayland Union and Jackson Lumen Christi, being held at Spring Arbor University, was scheduled to be played tonight. However, the match was postponed due to weather and was played March 13, at 7 p.m.

Milan’s next game will be in Chelsea against the Wayland-Jackson winner, and it will be held on Tuesday, March 18 at 7 p.m.

 

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