Friday night’s Class B semi-final matchup between the Milan Big Reds and Wyoming Godwin Heights Wolverines pitted two 1st-year head coaches squaring off against each other. Godwin Heights was playing in their 2nd Final Four in 3 years, while Milan was trying to defend their state title. Unfortunately for the Big Reds, their journey ended one win short of the championship game, as they lost to the Wolverines 70-64.
Despite having a better shooting percentage in the contest – 43 percent from the field compared to the Wolverines’ 32 percent – the Big Reds were doomed by the number of turnovers they committed. Milan turned the ball over 21 times on Friday night, allowing Godwin to score 17 points off of those turnovers.
The Big Reds kept the contest close throughout, trailing by four after the 1st quarter and three at the half. A 6-0 run in the third quarter gave Milan their first lead since the opening seconds of the game. Nick Perkins and Latin Davis aided the Big Reds to take a 47-44 lead with 1:47 left in the third.
Milan built their largest lead in the 4th, when a Garrett Gardette bucket put the Big Reds up 56-51 with 5:11 to go. Godwin began taking over when Leon Redd narrowed the Milan lead to 57-55 with 4:33 remaining. Following Redd’s basket, the Wolverines scored the game’s next seven points. Milan missed a one-and-one free throw opportunity and suffered three consecutive turnovers during that stretch. Godwin extended their lead to 62-57 when Redd hit a three-pointer with 2:03 left to play.
Milan was unable to close the gap, as four different Godwin players went a combined 7-for-9 from the free throw line over the last minute and a half. The Big Reds’ last hope came when Davis hit an NBA-range three-pointer to narrow the gap to 68-64 with 34 seconds remaining, but it would not be enough.
Perkins led the Big Reds in scoring on the night, netting 21 points. Davis had 17.
“I was hoping to do more, but it came to an end,” Davis said after the game, referencing the team’s run. “We all worked hard (to get here).”
Following the loss, Milan head coach Chris Pope praised his team’s effort. “I’m proud of the effort that my kids gave me in this game and throughout the whole year,” he said.
Regarding his team’s performance in the game, Pope acknowledged the struggles they faced. “We turned the ball over too much, and we didn’t do a good job of rebounding,” he said. “We knew (Godwin Heights) was athletic, but we didn’t do a good job on our end of playing the right way.
“I give (Godwin) credit. They were not scared and didn’t back down. They played a good game.”
Davis finished his career 2nd on the Milan all-time scoring list, scoring 1,492 points over four seasons. In two-and-a-half years with the Big Reds, Perkins scored 1,026.
Milan concluded their season with a 24-3 record.