By Gary Larson
Mille Lacs County Times
Milaca’s boys basketball team lost two games last week to slip to a 2-17 record. The Wolves’ losing streak moved to 12 games.
Milaca lost at Maple Lake 78-56 Thursday, Feb. 16 in a non-conference game, then fell to Zimmerman 72-58 Friday in a Granite Ridge Conference game at Milaca.
But, first-year head coach Dustin Naumann isn’t about to give up on his team.
“This sounds like a broken record but we are getting very close to going over the top and getting a win,” said Naumann. “The effort every day in practice and the drive in these guys makes me proud to be their coach.
“They are not letting their record discourage them. Just like anyone else they wish they had more wins but they realize that we can improve down the stretch and go into the playoffs playing some very good basketball.”
The Wolves conclude the regular season with three GRC games. They travel to Foley tonight (Thursday), then journey to Mora Tuesday, Feb. 28 before hosting Princeton Friday, March 2.
“We didn’t shoot well in our earlier 46-42 loss to Foley and we feel we are a better team now than back then,” said Naumann. “We feel we can close the regular season on a positive note.”
At Maple Lake, the host Irish led 30-21 at halftime before outscoring the Wolves 48-35 in the second half.
Senior guard Brandon Kiel’s 24 points paced the Wolves while sophomore forward Justin Fransen scored 11 points.
“We were beaten badly on the boards,” said Naumann. “Maple Lake had 18 offensive rebounds which led to over 20 second-chance points.”
Zimmerman boosted its GRC-leading record to 9-1 and its overall mark to 18-4 by outscoring the Wolves 44-31 in the second half. The Thunder led just 28-27 at halftime.
Brandon Kiel scored 24 points and sophomore guard Brian Kiel had nine points. Brandon also had 11 rebounds.
“We were aggressive in the first half and we were able to match them on offense and defense,” said Naumann. “In the second half we ran into some stretches where we didn’t score and that helped Zimmerman pull away.
“We battled hard and, overall, came up with a great effort.”