Milaca boys play well in losses

Milaca’s boys basketball team lost three Granite Ridge Conference games last week.

Coach Dustin Naumann felt the Wolves played great in losses to St. Cloud Cathedral at home Jan. 29 and at Mora last Friday. And, not so well at Albany Thursday, Jan. 31.

Cathedral tipped Milaca 72-66 while Mora won 62-56 in overtime and Albany clipped the Wolves 61-44.

“Overall, with games against three very good teams, the week was a grind,” said Naumann.

At Mora, the Wolves trailed by 11 points in the first half before cutting the gap to 31-28 at halftime. Milaca trailed by 11 points in the second half but again rallied back, with junior guard Justin Fransen’s two-point basket with 28 seconds left eventually sending the game into overtime tied at 56-56.

The Mustangs outscored the Wolves 6-0 in overtime as senior guard Adam Burgess sank four of four free-throw attempts.

“We missed five mostly uncontested shots in overtime,” said Naumann. “For it being our third game of the week and playing on back-to-back nights, I was impressed with how we played.”

Fransen paced the Wolves with 22 points, 19 in the first half. Sophomore forward Mike Garber added 14 points while junior forward Nick Wolbert had 11 points and six rebounds.

Junior guard Sam Johnson paced the Mustangs with 25 points.

Fransen sank four three-pointers while Johnson drilled five.

Milaca slipped to a 1-8 GRC mark and 5-11 overall record while Mora moved to 7-2 and 14-3.

Against Cathedral, Milaca held the lead for most of the first and led 36-31 at halftime. The Wolves held on to the lead until the Crusaders went ahead with just over three minutes to play.

“I was very proud of how we played against a team ranked No. 4 in Class AA,” said Naumann. “We came out confident in our game plan and executed extremely well, especially in the first half.

“We showed our balance with four players in double figures. We only used one player off the bench and really held our ground – not getting into the fast-tempo style Cathedral uses so well. I think the game showed we can compete with anybody as long as we play with confidence and stick to our brand of basketball.”

Garber paced the Wolves with 18 points while junior center Matt VanSomeren scored 14, junior guard Brian Kiel and Wolbert each had 12 and Fransen had eight.

VanSomeren also had seven rebounds while Garber and Kiel each grabbed six.

Junior guard Steven Neutzling led the Crusaders with 19 points while sophomore guard Brindley Theisen had 18 and junior forward Brady Schmit scored 17.

Cathedral is 8-2 in GRC play and 15-3 overall.

Albany led 32-22 at halftime, then outscored Milaca 29-22 in the second half.

Garber scored 15 points, VanSomeren had eight and Wolbert and junior guard Cam Sundberg each had seven points.

Senior guard Scott Litchy sank four of Albany’s seven three-pointers and led the Huskies with 24 points.

Albany is 7-3 in GRC games and 11-8 overall.

“We were a little flat after playing so well against Cathedral two nights earlier,” said Naumann. “We weren’t very aggressive on defense and allowed Albany to get too many open shots near the basket.

“Offensively, we couldn’t hit anything after some nice baskets to start the game. We dug ourselves into too much of a hole.”

Milaca, 1-8 in conference games and 5-11 overall, continues GRC play at Becker tonight (Thursday), at 7:30, then hosts Zimmerman Tuesday, Feb. 12, and is at home against Princeton  Thursday, Feb. 14.