Entering into the stretch of facing four Granite Ridge opponents who all finished top-four in the conference last season, the results did not go the Milaca boys basketball team’s way. That string of games was capped with an 82-45 loss to Albany on Jan. 28 as the Wolves have now lost four straight.
Head Coach Kaleb Anderson was disappointed by the results but knows the tough stretch will pay off in the games to come. “If I had to make the perfect schedule, this would be the way I would do it. Yeah, we had some tough teams at the beginning and that hurts in loss column but we are doing new things weekly and we are slowly starting to figure out who we are,” said Anderson, as the Wolves fell to the Albany, Little Falls, Mora and Pierz.
Ringing true to what Anderson is saying, Milaca’s most recent loss against Albany showed a defensive unit that has the makings to be capable to slow down some of the conference’s top offensives.
The Wolves were able to hang around starting the game against the Huskies, limiting Albany to just 14 points midway through the first half. “I was thoroughly impressed. To see us hold them to 14 points midway through the first half was really impressive because Albany is a great team,” said Anderson, as the Huskies entered into the contest heavily favored and ranked amongst the top Class AA teams in the state.
Though hanging tough and battling hard on the defensive end, the Wolves’ offense failed to get going scoring just three points to that point in the contest.
The remainder of the first half saw a bit more offense from Milaca but Albany was able to balloon its lead to 40-20 entering the break.
A big part of the offense failing to get going was the absence of Wolves’ starting point guard Treyton Hardy. “He [Hardy] had an injury that he was nursing and he tried to do the best he could to get back but we didn’t feel comfortable playing him. He would have made a difference,” said Anderson.
Back in action for the second half, Albany was able to figure out Milaca’s defense while running away with the game, winning by 37 points.
Peyton Hunt led the Wolves in scoring dropping 12 points while Caleb Pollema added 10 points and five rebounds in the loss.
Looking back on the four game stretch, Milaca knows the one thing it must improve if they want to compete with the top teams in the Granite Ridge; The offense. “The shooting percentages are low across the board,” said Anderson, adding that confidence and getting back to the basics will be key in turning the offense around.
What remains next for Milaca is yet to be determined as a positive COVID-19 case among the varsity squad has sidelined the team until Feb. 8 at the earliest. “To just be out a week would be nice, so fingers crossed on that things will go well,” said Anderson.
Milaca will only miss game its versus St. Cloud Cathedral on Feb. 2, if able to return next week.