Milano eyes showdown with Mumford
The No. 6 Eagles held No. 19 Dallardsville Big Sandy to just 11 second half points to earn a 50-41 regional quarterfinals win on Tuesday night at Mustang Gym and earned the school’s first trip to the regional tournament in 15 years.
Milano will face No. 16 Port Aransas (23-12) at 2 p.m. Friday in the Region IV-A semifinals at New Braunfels Canyon High School.
The other semifinal game, set for noon, will see No. 2 Mumford Mustangs (34-0) face the Sabinal Yellowjackets (26-3).
The two winners will play at 1 p.m. Saturday for a trip to the state tournament to be held in Austin on March 8-10.
PortAransasupsetNo.10 Medina 51-43 on Tuesday night. The Marlins are winners of 31A. Mumford won 26A and Sabinal was 30A champs.
Milano knocked Mumford out of the state playoffs in 2011 on a wild last-second shot and the Mustangs feature former Milano player Aubrie King.
“I knew it would be a close game,” said Milano Coach Rob-
Who—No. 6 Milano (31-1) vs. No. 16 Port Aransas (23-12) at 2 p.m.; No. 2 Mumford (34- 0) vs. Sabinal (26-3) at Noon. Winners play at 1 p.m. Saturday for a trip to the state tournament March 8-10 in Austin. What—Region IV, Class A, Division I regional tournament When—Friday-Saturday Where—New Braunfels Canyon History—Milano has made four trips to the regional tournament; 1997, 1981, 1977, 1951.
“It was a big win and I am proud of the guys. And what a great following by our fans tonight.”
Eagle teams have reached the regional tournament four previous times in school history, the most recent being 1997 when they lost in the regional finals to eventual state champion Moulton.
Milano also reached regionals in 1951 and 1977 under Coach Charlie Martin and in 1981 under Coach Jay Wise.
In 1951, the first year UIL recognized basketball as a sanctioned sport, the regional tournament was the furthest a team could go. Milano lost that year in the regional finals 33-32 to Big Sandy.
Big Sandy reached the regional quarterfinals matchup against Milano by defeating Holland, the third place squad from Milano’s 27A, 77-60 in the area round on Friday night.
The Wildcats were winners of 25A and had a first round bye.
The Eagles got all they wanted from Big Sandy who were very productive from the outside and gave Milano’s post players, Dominique Messer and John Jentsch some competition on the boards.
The Wildcats went down early, with the Eagles scoring six quick points before Big Sandy could get on the board. Milano held onto a three point lead after one before the Wildcats found a groove of their own.
Big Sandy would go on a 13-2 run to in the first four and half minutes of the second quarter and lead the Eagles by as much as 11 with 3:25 left in the half. Milano then went on an 11-2 run if its own to cut the lead to 30-28 at halftime.
The Eagles buckled down on defense during the break.
Milano dug deep with its stout defense and pressured the Wildcats to make quick shots, most not falling and the Eagles picked up the rebound.
Milano regained the lead at 34-33 with two John Jentsch free throws at 2:42 left in the third. The Eagles would not loss the lead again.
Big Sandy would hang around, getting as close as 38-37 with six minutes to go. Two more Jentsch free throws with 3:31 in the game would begin Milano’s 12-4 run to end the game.
A huge momentum shift went to the Eagles in that run when Jacob Willingham would hit a jumper and get fouled.
He missed the free throw and Big Sandy would snag the board, but Messer would steal the ball off the dribble and put it back in for two points to give Milano a six point 45-39 lead with 1:50 left in the ball game.
The Wildcats would have to call a time out to stop the run.
“During the time out I try to calm them down and told them, ‘you are making memories. They are about to hand you this game on a silver platter, you just have to go get it,’” Robinson said. He added that the team really talked about “ratcheting down” its defense in the second half during the locker room talks at halftime. It worked.
Messer ended the night with 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead Milano. John Jentsch added 12 points, 11 rebounds and six big blocks.
Milano struggled from the charity stripe, hitting just 10 of 21 from the free throw line on the night.
Wildcats junior guard Naaman Williams led all scorers with 19 points.
The Eagles had their hands full on Friday night as they etched out a 43-37 win over the Burton Panthers in area round action at Caldwell’s Hornet Gym. Burton, the second place team out of 26A were taller than the Eagle squad, but struggled shooting from the outside.
Milano held on to a slim 5-4 lead after one quarter, but then busted the game open with a 14 point second frame to take a 19- 12 lead into the break.
Burton was able to cut the lead down to five by the end of the third and kept things very close throughout the fourth.
Milano could have given itself more of a cushion, but struggled on free throws, hitting just 14 of 30 from the charity stripe.
John Jentsch led the team with 14 points and 16 rebounds, along with three steals and five blocks. Jordan Melton added in 12 points and two assists.
The prowling Panther defense held Milano’s Dominique Messer (one of the team’s top scorers) to no points on the night, but he did snag 13 boards, a steal and a block.
Burton’s Xavier Bethany led all scorers with 20 points, 11 rebounds and six steals.
“What a great win against a tall, athletic team. We played hard throughout the entire game and showed a tremendous amount of fortitude to pull this one out,” Robinson said. “I believe the team played with passion and purpose and ‘willed’ themselves to victory.”
The Eagles’ victory over Burton was No. 30 on the season for the team. It is believed that is the most wins a boys team from Milano has ever posted.
“Not many teams reach thirty wins in a season and for them to reach this milestone is a huge accomplishment,” Robinson said of his team.
Because of the 2 p.m. tipoff Friday, Milano schools will let out at Noon on Friday.