Mavericks go ‘all in’ on championship dreams


Sam Lewis helps up Owen Stark after a big basket and the foul. (Photo courtesy of Jerry Rea Photography).

Zach Koby and Wyatt Towianski, Staff Writers


Character, pride, value, and family: the four pillars of the Milford basketball program. Head Coach David Gilbert leads a program that hopes to dominate this upcoming season. Milford is loaded with talent and hopes to make a huge jump this season and improve from their already impressive 14-7 record last year.

Milford is coming off a third-place Lakes Valley Conference standing, but picked up program-boosting wins over Lakeland, Walled Lake Northern, and South Lyon East. However, they fell short in the second round of the district tournament with a heartbreaking loss to the Knights of Northern.

Milford graduated five seniors, three of whom were starters. Milford, however, does return their leading scorers, Senior forward Sam Lewis, and two-year starting point guard Luke Jaklic. “The Seniors last year left a good foundation for us to build on,” Lewis said. Both Jaklic and Lewis hope to spearhead the Mav’s offensive attack and bring leadership to the floor on the other side of the ball. “Our seniors have been in our program and they understand the expectations,” said Gilbert.

Milford also brings on young talent from sophomores Owen Stark and Carson Lutz. “They bring lots of skills and basketball knowledge; the future is very bright,” stated Lewis when asked about the young, yet impactful players. These young guns will surely give Milford a spark if needed.

This may be one of the deepest Milford teams in recent history with several threats to score, but they will likely turn to the All Lakes Valley Conference forward, Lewis, to lead the offense.. Not only do the Mavericks have scoring powerhouses, but they also have some defensive juggernauts as well. Junior Anthony Hutter is sure to protect the rim and Senior Naethan Jaklic has the defensive tenacity to take on the opposing team’s best guard.

However, the Lakes Valley Conference is loaded with several other talented teams and Milford is likely to see a player that will be playing at the next level in several of their matchups. Waterford Mott’s Junior forward Kalieb Osborne, Lakeland’s Senior forward Andrew Turnquist, and Walled Lake Northern’s Senior guard Jude Muldenhauer-Whitman are the headliners.

They look to combat the talent on other teams by bringing intensity and cohesiveness to each game they play. “The talent is as good as it’s ever been, but we are focused on what we do and how we compete,” said Gilbert.

Milford’s non-conference schedule also isn’t something to look past.

They began the season on December 5th against Haslett with a 52-44 win. Sam Lewis lead the way with a game-high 25 points. He also added 10 rebounds and 4 assists.  Hutter was also a major contributor as he poured in 14 against the undersized Vikings. Luke Jaklic had a very sound, efficient game; scoring 10 points while also gathering 6 rebounds and 3 assists.

Milford opened up conference play at home against conference favorite Waterford Mott. Mott returned all of their starters from the previous year and were loaded with young talent once again. However, Milford proved to be too much to handle. Sam Lewis once again exploded for a game high 29 points. Sophomore Carson Lutz also contributed from the free throw line, shooting 11/12 from the charity stripe. Senior sixth man Naethan Jaklic also tacked on 8 points going 2/2 from three and stepping up to guard Mott’s Osborne and limit him throughout the game. Milford pulled out the win 65-47.

The Mavs then moved back on the road against a mediocre Livonia Churchill squad. Milford won the game handily with a score of 57-24. It was a very balanced scoring attack, as the Mavs were on the first day of back to back game schedule. Lewis once again led the way totaling 19 points in just one half of play.

10 other players also entered the scoring column as Milford easily handled Churchill. The second game of Milford’s back to back was against Plymouth Salem. In one of the most exciting games in Milford basketball history, the Mavs pulled out the win at the buzzer as Sam Lewis put back a rebound as the clock expired to put them up 53-52. Lewis led the way with 32 points, Hutter contributed 9 and Luke Jaklic pitched in 12. Milford now moves  to Walled Lake Western on Friday, Dec. 16 for their second conference game of the year.

Milford then takes on Southfield A&T on Tuesday, Dec. 20 for their last game before break.

Milford hasn’t won a district championship since 2018-2019 when they went 15-7, just a game better than last year’s team. If there was ever a year for the Mavericks to win districts and make a playoff push beyond that, it’s this year.

Coach Gilbert has a theme for his players every year, this year it’s “all in.” The idea is to push his players to want more and to never be satisfied. In past years, Coach Gilbert has also had a prop for his players, such as a belt or a gas can. This season the team will be given poker chips. With young talent, great leadership, and the determination to be the best possible player and teammate, we’ll see how many chips this team puts in.