Boys Basketball Looking to go Back-To-Back

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Boys Basketball Looking to go Back-To-Back

Max Poser, Assistant Managing Editor

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After winning a district title last year for the first time in 21 years, Milford looks to repeat this year, but with a totally different style.

This year brings on a challenge as the Mavericks lost many important players to graduation; those players include last year’s captains: Gunnar Gustafson, Nolan Rand, and Andrew Minton.

The most important piece of the puzzle that was lost was Gustafson, who now plays college basketball at Lawrence Tech University. Gustafson did a lot for the team averaging 14 points, 11.6 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game. He set career records for rebounds and blocks as a three-year varsity player.

Two players will work to fill Gustafson’s role with Senior Center/Power Forward Ronnie Savage & Junior Center/Power Forward Trevor Lee getting many more minutes this year. If there is anything to know about this team, it’s that they never back down from a challenge.

Coming into this year the team has eight players returning from last year, seven seniors and 1 junior. The Mavericks added 9 new players to the team.

Milford will be playing a new style of ball with a smaller team who will not rely on Gustafson dominating the paint. Now playing small has its advantages and disadvantages, but it most definitely can spread the floor more and allow perimeter players to shoot and drive to the paint.

With losing such key players, the team hopes to get a big spark from Junior Eric Elizondo, who hit the game-winning 3-pointer in the district game last year.

He is also coming off of an injury that occurred after the 2018-2019 season, which put him out for two months in the summer.

Fortunately, Elizondo was ready to go in the summer league games Milford played, along with attending Milford’s preseason training.  Elizondo said he is looking forward to, “playing with my guys and winning another district championship.”

With such a big senior class for the Mavericks, the team has a lot of maturity. Each senior has played all 3 previous years in the program, and this year will mark the first year where they are seen as leaders.

The guy that looks to step up and fulfill a main leadership role is Ryan Lewis, who is a 2nd generation Maverick to his brother Justin Lewis. Both boys are sons of Andrew Lewis, the junior varsity head coach.

Ryan knows what it takes to be vocal on and off the court for the team, whether it’s talking on defense, communicating in the huddle, or just knowing the game of basketball, helping his teammates to make the right decisions.

“Communication is important on and off the floor and to communicate efficiently you need to be vocal,” he said.

Another player looking to fulfill a leadership role is Nate Rand, whose brother Nolan Rand played for Milford all 4 years. Nate playing under his brother constantly had someone he could look up to and ask questions, but now the script has flipped, and he looks to share that wisdom from his brother with the team. Nate said it would be a difficult change, but one he looked forward to.

“It will for sure be different because I looked up to him and he taught me a lot both on and off the court,” he said.

Although Nate may not be as vocal as Ryan, he is more of the lead-by-example type of player, and with those two guys leading in different ways, the team have seniors to inspire the group.

The team is coached by Head Coach David Gilbert & Assistant Coach Nathan Kuntz. This year will be Gilbert’s 7th year of coaching at the varsity level and 17th total year of coaching in general.

Of course, Gilbert always wants to win and of the team to be successful, but that’s not why he coaches.

“The number one reason I coach would be because it’s a great way to influence the kids through sports…teaching them life lessons,’ he said. ‘It isn’t really about the wins and losses; it’s about being a positive influence on the kids.”

Coming off a district title, puts a lot of pressure on the team to do it again. Even though they did it once it doesn’t mean they can’t do it again, but with a whole new team, it’ll take a bit more work and dedication to get them to where they were as a team last year.

The Mavericks tip-off the season against Walled Lake Northern on Dec. 10.

Junior Eric Elizondo cutting off a piece off the net to keep as a momentum from last years victory

Jerry Rea
Senior Nick Krol shooting a 3-pointer against Lakeland last year

Ronnie Savage taking it baseline for the score last year against Lakeland

2018-2019 Milford Basketball District Champions. On the far left is Head Coach David Gilbert. On the Far right is Assistant Coach Nathan Kuntz