Heading into Friday night’s contest with the Grosse Ile Red Devils, the Milan Big Reds were aware of two things.
First, the Red Devils would be hungry for a win after nearly coming back against Milan in their last matchup – eventually losing by two points on Jan. 31; second, Grosse Ile would be emphasizing three-point shots on offense.
The Red Devils downed 7 treys en route to a 61-56 victory, which included a game-high 25 points from Justin Moores.
In this battle, it would be Milan who came back from a deficit, which reached a high of seven points midway through the 3rd quarter. Over the final 3:54 of the frame, which was kick-started by a Trevor Ballard three-pointer, the Big Reds outscored Grosse Ile 11-5 and narrowed the visitors’ lead to 46-44.
Milan briefly took the lead in the 4th, scoring the quarter’s first 4 points by way of a Kenari Moore bucket off a steal, and a Jarius Hamilton driving layup. Yet after the Red Devils tied the game at 48 a short time later, the momentum swung their way for the remainder of the contest.
The result didn’t affect the conference standings, as Milan (11-3 Huron League) and Grosse Ile (10-4) were in 2nd and 3rd place regardless of the outcome, but for Red Devils coach Mohamed Elhaj, the win meant something.
“It’s a great win,” he said. “(Milan’s) a great team. We lost a close one at our house, and I told (my players) it’s not going to be easy, that they’re not going to just give (the win) to us. We came out and played great defense, we played as a team offensively, and we got the win.”
Elhaj had high praise for his team, complimenting several players, including Moores, Matthew Frost – who scored 23 in the previous matchup and netted 15 on Friday – and his backup guards. “Moores is a hell of a shooter,” Elhaj said. “I told him just to let it fly. As long as we could play defense, he’d be alright. Same with Frost.
“(Frost) got in foul trouble the first half, and we had to sit him out in the second quarter. Our backup guards did a great job keeping the game under control. In the second half, Frost was ready to go and he did a great job.”
On the other side, Milan head coach Chris Pope was disappointed with the final result. “We just didn’t play well enough and it’s simple as that,” he said. “They played better than us and wanted (the win) more than us. We didn’t play with enough energy and effort. We did a bad job defensively, giving up 61 points after playing so well (the last few games).
“We’d get a stop and then they’d get a layup. We’d miss an assignment and they hit a three. The little things like that add up, and you can’t keep digging yourself out of those holes when they’re that deep. It was not a good loss, and that’s on me.”
The Big Reds were led in scoring by Hamilton, who scored 18 points. Jeremy Morgan added 12 for Milan, while Ballard had 8.
The JV Big Reds also lost to Grosse Ile on Friday. Their 47-44 loss drops their overall record to 8-10, while their Huron League record slips to 8-6.
Milan (11-7 overall) plays their final regular season home game on Monday against Arbor Prep (8-9). This will be the first-ever matchup between the two teams. The Gators feature former Milan standout Garrett Gardette on their roster.
Monday’s contest is set for a 7 p.m. start.