Milaca loses opener at SJP tournament 68-67

Milaca’s opening game in the St. John’s Prep Boys Holiday Basketball Tournament went down to the wire as Maple Lake edged the Wolves 68-67 in Collegeville Thursday night, Dec. 20.

Milaca trailed 68-65 when junior guard Brian Kiel was fouled on a three-point attempt as time expired. Kiel sank the first two free throws but the third, which would’ve sent the game into overtime, bounced on the rim twice before falling off.

“We started out strong and confident, making good plays and handling their pressure well,” said coach Dustin Naumann. “We had an 11-point lead with under eight minutes left but Maple Lake’s pressure created some turnovers and they started hitting their outside shots.”

Sophomore forward Mike Garber led Milaca with 18 points while junior guard Justin Fransen scored 16.

In other quarterfinal games in the tournament, Eden Valley-Watkins stopped Rush City 66-46, Holdingford topped Onamia 52-36 and Carlton tipped St. John’s Prep 44-41.

Milaca was scheduled to  face Rush City today (Friday) in the consolation semifinals at 6 p.m. in Guild Hall. Maple Lake was scheduled to meet Eden Valley-Watkins in the championship semifinals today at 6:30 in the Palaestra, with Holdingford facing Carlton in the other semifinal game at 8.

Saturday’s schedule has the seventh-place game at 1 p.m., the fifth-place game at 2:30, the third-place game at 4:30 and the championship game at 6:30.

On Tuesday, Dec. 18, Kimball stopped Milaca 75-59 in a non-conference game at Kimball.

The Cubs took advantage of 17 first-half Milaca turnovers to take a 35-20 halftime lead.

“We were flat and never really got anything going,” said Naumann. “Especially on defense.”

Junior center Matt VanSomeren scored 13 points and had nine rebounds while Garber had 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

The Wolves took a 2-3 record into tonight’s game against Rush City.