For Milford’s boys, the Anton Remy Jr. Tournament title is only the beginning.
“We want to win the Tri-Valley title and the Section Four title,” junior point guard Will Ward said Saturday after the Wildcats took apart Franklin, 52-25, in the Remy finals.
“To meet our goals, we are going to have to work hard every day in practice and we are going to have to work together as a team,” he said.
Milford went 13-3 in the regular season in 2012-13. The Wildcats won the Tri-Valley League East title before losing to Morris in the championship and getting knocked out of the section tournament in the quarterfinals against Hunter-Tannersville.
All five starters return from that team – and all five are just juniors – led by Ward and the Remy MVP, forward Peyton Griffiths. So it should be a couple of good years on the court for Milford.
In addition, for the boys, basketball is clearly the top sport. “It definitely means a lot to us,” Griffths said.
Center Max Lang will also be a key player for Milford. At about 6-foot-4, Lang will be a match-up problem for most opponents inside. But he’s not just a low-post threat; Lang can dribble well and has three-point-shooting ability.
Guard Blake Elliot and forward Jacob Tabor round out the starting five while seniors Elijah Rutledge and Stephen Banks add depth and experience on the bench.
With Morris losing its top two players in Mike DeLuca and Levi Decker, the balance of power in the Tri Valley should shift to the East. Cherry Valley-Springfield will remain a big foe for Milford, but the Patriots lost to Franklin in the Remy and have lost much of their starting lineup from last year to graduation and soccer injuries.
“Everybody else seems to have lost a lot,” Griffiths said. “We thought Cherry Valley was going to be one of the better teams to watch out for, but then they lost (to Franklin.)”
If Milford has any weakness, it may be overconfidence, but Ward seems to understand that they haven’t met their goals yet.
“We have to remember why we are here, and that is to win championships,” he said. “We need to be a unit.”
On Saturday, the title was decided early. Milford outscored the Purple Devils 19-2 in the first quarter as Lang, Ward and Griffiths all had three-point shots and Griffiths added a dunk to cap the quarter.
All five starters sat the first half of the second quarter, but it didn’t help Franklin, which trailed 32-4 at halftime. The Purple Devils closed the gap slightly in the third quarter, but Milford’s first five played only sporadically in the second half.
“I’m pleased with our defense,” Milford coach Frank Spurchise told the Daily Star. “We’ve done very well in the first two games. We’ve allowed 16 points total in the first half in two games.
“Along with the defense, I’m pleased with the way we’re sharing the ball,” Spurchise said.
Derek Beers led Franklin with 13 points.
Ward had 17, Griffiths had 14 and Lang scored 10 for Milford (2-0), which hosts CV-S on Dec. 4.
Milford 52, Franklin 25
ANTON REMY TOURNAMENT
Championship at Milford
FRANKLIN (1-1): Matt D’Angelo 1 0-0 3, Blaine Fairchild 0 0-0 0, Derek Beers 5 2-2 13, Kyle Martin 0 0-0 0, K.C. Jacobson 1 0-0 3, Billy Davis 3 0-0 6, Lynndon Huyck 0 0-0 0, Joe Terrano 0 0-0 0, Joe Smith 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 10 2-2 25.
MILFORD (2-0): Blake Elliott 1 0-2 2, Michael Strenck 0 0-0 0, Peyton Griffiths 6 0-1 14, Stephen Banks 0 0-0 0, William Ward 7 0-0 17, Paul VanWarner 0 0-0 0, Brian Atwell 0 0-0 0, Max Lang 4 1-2 10, Bret Gardepe 0 0-0 0, Jacob Tabor 0 0-0 0, Eli Rutledge 4 1-2 9, Phrott 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 22 2-8 52.
Franklin 2 2 16 5 – 25
Milford 19 13 10 10 – 52
Three-point field goals: F 3 (D’Angelo, Beers, Jacobson); M 6 (Griffiths 2, Ward 3, Lang).
MVP: Peyton Griffiths (Milford).
All-tournament team: Wyatt Crowley (CV-S), William Rendler (Roxbury), Derek Beers (Franklin), Max Lang (Milford), Will Ward (Milford).