The wait is over.
After a five-game losing streak began the season, the Milan Big Reds traveled to Monroe and defeated the Jefferson Bears 59-34, notching their first win of the 2016-17 campaign.
Milan never trailed in the contest, starting out with a 6-0 lead in the opening two minutes. The Big Reds led 16-5 after the first quarter, and expanded the lead to 32-13 at the half. Following the halftime break, the Milan lead was never less than 17.
Eleven of the 12 Big Red players scored in the game; Jarius Hamilton and Trevor Ballard led Milan with a game-high 12 points each. Jeremy Morgan had 9, while Kenari Moore and Maxwell Milliken each contributed 7 points of their own to the Big Red cause.
Trent Sandifer led Jefferson with 12.
“The same thing happened last year,” Milan head coach Chris Pope said after the win, referencing last season’s team whose one-point win against Saline kickstarted a 7-game win streak. “You learn from experience, and we needed to get the first (win). We hope to build off of it.”
The last two practices were a key part of the turnaround. “(They) were the best two days of practices we’ve had,” Pope said. “I’m holding people accountable, and making them run if they make mistakes. And if we take a step back on Monday (in practice), you’ll see it on Tuesday. But hopefully we can build off of tonight.”
Pope also went with the hot-hand starting lineup, tabbing Tristen Hines for the second straight game, as well as giving Kenari Moore a nod. “We switched up the lineup because they’ve been playing the best,” the third-year head coach said. “The five kids that work the hardest in practice will start from here on out. It’s a competition. If they keep (playing well), hopefully we’ll have some better results.”
The Big Red JV team also won their first game of the season, defeating the Jefferson squad 60-30.
“It’s all about the way you prepare,” Milan JV head coach Steven Price said. “I tell (the players) all the time that you have to earn victory every practice and every game you’re out there. To this point, I don’t know if we’ve done that. But today, everybody practiced harder, we prepared harder, and we performed better.
“We played 32 minutes from the start. It starts during warmups, and if you’re locked in (from then on), you’re going to see results.”
Friday’s win was the 948th victory in the history of the varsity program, putting them two wins away from 950; fellow Monroe County school Dundee made history with their 1,000th all-time win earlier this season.
Milan (1-5, 1-1 Huron League) travels to Carleton Airport on Tuesday to take on the Jets (3-4, 1-1 Huron League). The varsity contest is set to begin at 7 p.m.
Editor’s note: Dante Hurst was incorrectly stated as scoring 7 points. The article has been updated with the correct scorer, Maxwell Milliken.